Matthew Wolff has opened up about his battle with mental health issues and admits it is “not easy” to enjoy himself on the golf course.
Wolff returned to competition at this week’s US Open having taken time away from the game following his disqualification from the Masters in April, and he put his off-course problems aside to force his way into contention after an impressive first two days at Torrey Pines.
The exciting young American was tied for fourth in his first major appearance at the PGA Championship last year and then finished runner-up to Bryson DeChambeau at the US Open, but he endured a poor run of results early this year before his unfortunate exit at Augusta National.
Wolff has had invaluable support from Bubba Watson since arriving in California, with the two-time Masters champion sharing his experiences of how he coped with the depths of despair and dramatic weight loss which threatened to end his career.
“The love for the game really went away from me,” an emotional Wolff told Sky Sports after he carded a second-round 68 to lie just one shot off the lead at the halfway stage. “I was going out and trying my best, I was grinding and stuff wasn’t going my way.
“I was getting really down on myself and honestly for a few months, I kind of felt hopeless. Probably just a few days ago was the first time I really found some hope in my game and my happiness out here.
“It’s easy to be happy when you’re playing well, but it’s hard to put things in perspective and not be so hard on yourself when you’re out here trying to perform at the highest level. I’m glad that I’m enjoying myself out here again, but it’s not easy.”
Wolff has been open and honest about the turmoil in his private life, and he hopes his comments will encourage others with similar issues to come forward.
“I’m not trying to draw attention to myself specifically, I’m just trying to draw attention to mental health,” Wolff added. “It’s extremely important. With all professional athletes, you think that these people just have all the money, all the fame and everyone looks up to them like they’re gods or whatever.
“It’s like ‘how can these people have problems?’ I’d say on a good month, we spend two weeks in our bed and a lot of these people have families out here. There’s just a lot of things we have to deal with that most people don’t have to.
“Even though I come out here every day and try to be strong, I just wasn’t strong enough for what I was going through. It’s been really hard but I’ve been battling back, been trying to be happy and I feel like I’ve done that this week.”
Watson is also in contention at Torrey Pines after a 67 on day two propelled him to three under, and the left-hander explained how he played a practice round with Wolff and offered his encouragement and reassurance, although Wolff hadn’t pushed him for advice.
“I was just sharing my own issues and struggles, not that he wanted to hear it,” Watson said. “He didn’t ask for my advice.
“I love him, I love his family and I love his team. So I was just talking to them and just shared that I’ve wasted money, I’ve saved money, I’ve bought businesses, sold businesses, I’ve lost 20, 30 pounds in weight because of struggles.
“I said, ‘I’ve done everything you’re thinking about, I’ve done it all. So if you ever want advice, just call me’.
“I was going to text him a few weeks ago, but I wanted to talk to him in person, so that’s what I did. I was just trying to give him my two cents. He didn’t ask for it, but I gave it to him anyway.
“It’s probably more helpful to me than him just because I can hear it again in my own head, me saying it out loud, and I played pretty calm out there the last couple of days. So I guess it did work out for me.”
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June 20, 2021, 3:00pm
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