Written by Written by Abisola Adesanya , CNN
Many golfers would kill for the £1 million ($1.2 million) Louis Oosthuizen recently won for The European Tour at an event in California.
But the golfer’s most treasured trophy was not the trophy on the trophy cabinet or even his prize money. Instead, he said it was his wife’s support that helped him survive a 14-month battle with depression.
The former Masters champion had made a great comeback, triumphing at the end of a gruelling season featuring a crazy winning sequence of 16 straight tournaments. He told CNN his wife, Shontelle, had been the reason he was back.
“She supports me from the outside, so the other stuff that doesn’t matter,” he said. “There’s so much else going on.”
It was his wife who helped him start therapy, a support network he said was very important in finding his way.
“When you’re depressed you don’t want to be alone, so you feel it’s better if you’re around people who support you. And we’ve got pretty good support in our family.”
“So when she walks into the room I feel calmer, I feel more at ease and a lot of things just loosen up.”
Arrests, drugs and imprisonment
Oosthuizen has suffered mental health difficulties throughout his life. He told CNN that before winning in America, he had spoken openly about suffering from depression.
“It’s kind of something that’s always been part of my game but it only came out more and more after I won at the (US) Masters,” he said.
The South African’s reputation was blown out of the water by his surprise fourth place finish at Augusta in April 2015 and he ended up withdrawing from the rest of the tournament with blurred vision. He was roundly criticized for falling ill after the event, a week after being suspended from The European Tour for taking cocaine.
“There was another event in South Africa and I was up till 2 or 3 in the morning going over the details of the event,” he said. “I called my agent and said ‘I’m not going to be able to play, I’m not mentally right, I’m not good enough to play.’ “
Weeks before he left Augusta, the club suspended him for two years for drug use. He was then arrested and pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine and cocaine possession.
“The stuff that happened with drugs really only affected me once and probably for a little while,” he said. “After that I got over it, I got back on the course.”
The divorced father of three told CNN the drug-related suspensions and arrests had never changed the way he played. He is now competing in the final leg of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, South Africa, but said he wasn’t in the best of spirits as he embarks on his ninth year in the sport.
“I’m going through a rough patch at the moment but I’m just going to try and turn that around and do my best for the boys.”