Australia’s Steven Bowditch has been hailed as a true champion after battling through the depths of depression and posting his first win on the US PGA Tour.
The 30-year-old snatched victory at the Texas Open by one shot on Monday morning, earning himself more than $1.2 million, a two-year tour exemption and a golden ticket to next week’s US Masters at Augusta.
It marks an incredible comeback for Bowditch, who has long-struggled with mental health issues.
He opened up about his personal plight several years ago and has since spent time helping raise awareness about depression through the non-profit organisation beyondblue.
“He has triumphed on the toughest golf circuit in the world and it shows that with the appropriate support, people with depression or anxiety are capable of achieving the extraordinary,” said beyondblue chairman and former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett.
“It sends a message to all Australians, particularly those in sport, that when you are struggling it sometimes can help to be open and talk about it.
“This way people can understand where you’re at and that, together with professional support, can help you live a very full, successful and happy life.
“While Steven will today have a wonderful trophy, this achievement itself is a shining prize that will inspire others with depression to reach similar heights.”
Bowditch became an instant hit on Twitter and drew congratulations from the golfing world and beyond, including Australia’s former world No.1 Greg Norman – who designed the Oaks Course the Queenslander conquered in San Antonio.
“From the Philippines a HUGE Congrats to fellow #queenslander Steven Bowditch on his 1st @PGATour win @valerotxopen. Gr8 yr for the Oz boys.” Norman posted.
Ex-rugby league player Wendell Sailor, who recently spoke out about his silent battle with depression, also lauded Bowditch’s efforts.
“Congrats Steven Bowditch on winning Valero Texas Open – great victory but even better story after what you’ve over come buddy.” he wrote.