The inspiring story of the golfer who overcame clinical depression to win on the PGA Tour

January 20, 2016

IRVING, TX - MAY 31:  Steven Bowditch of Australia and his wife Amanda pose with the trophy after his four-stroke victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson at the TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas on May 31, 2015 in Irving, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 527936379 ORIG FILE ID: 475420952

IRVING, TX – MAY 31: Steven Bowditch of Australia and his wife Amanda pose with the trophy after his four-stroke victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson at the TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas on May 31, 2015 in Irving, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 527936379 ORIG FILE ID: 475420952

To most of the outside world, Steven Bowditch claiming his second PGA Tour victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship is far from spectacular. He doesn’t have the name recognition of a Rory McIlroy or Tiger Woods, and the Byron Nelson Championship is hardly the U.S. Open. On the surface all that is undeniably true, but what makes Bowditch’s second win in two years so spectacular is to consider the 31-year-old’s past.

For most of his life, Bowditch has struggled with extreme bouts of clinical depression. The cause is believed to be genetic, passed on from his grandfather, who spent years in a Burmese labor camp during World War II. While Bowditch’s game was skyrocketing him to the highest level on tour, he would experience terrible headaches, nosebleeds that would soak the front of his shirt, and he would be terrified by the prospect of simple conversations with his peers. He was diagnosed with clinical depression, and was left so under-treated that he would self-medicate by binge drinking before tournaments. It escalated so far that he once tried to commit suicide by drowning himself in his own pool.

In 2009, Bowditch told his hallowing story to Golf World for the first time:

“I would sit in the locker room ’til two minutes before my tee time and run out and play,” he says. “If everyone was hitting balls on the left side of the range, I’d go all the way to the end just because I didn’t want to be around anyone. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. When people would talk to me, I didn’t even know they were talking. I couldn’t work out why.

“I wouldn’t sleep or eat from Monday to Wednesday and then I’d eat all day Thursday as much as I could,” he says. “I had it in my mind this was my routine.” Bowditch describes himself as a binge drinker, if an infrequent one, in his schoolboy days. During the ’05 season he began self-medicating with alcohol. “I would finish the pro-am at midday. I would start drinking at 1 o’clock in the afternoon and go all the way until 5 o’clock in the morning and tee it up in the tournament at 7 o’clock on the first tee. Go home, have an afternoon sleep and do it again. And that went on for six weeks,” he says. “I realized in June or July that I was doing it every day. That was my only escape from the person that I was.”

Redemption stories are often reverted to as a kind of fallback for sports commentators and writers; an easy way of manufacturing a decent-enough storyline to keep people interested. But there’s nothing manufactured about this story. Bowditch is the real thing, a true inspiration, and a shining example of all that is great in sports.

Article courtesy :usatoday

 




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