Real life is not just something that happens to us average humans, at times, life becomes all too real for heroes and icons from the world of sports, just as it does for regular people.
Case in point: Popular American golfer Harold Varner III was on top of the world after winning the Australian PGA last year.
Immediately after the win, which seemed to see him poised on a breakout season, he returned to the U.S. to discover that his girlfriend’s brother had been lost to addiction.
The Australian PGA was Varner’s first professional win, but the damage done by the emotional shock sent him into a tailspin that left him reeling and took a long time to heal.
Varner, accustomed as he was to using his time on the golf course as a respite from the pressures of life, both professional and personal, spoke with The Courier-Mail about the consequences.
“Literally right after the tournament I flew home and my girlfriend lost her brother that week. Even though I love my girlfriend, you can’t really relate because that’s never happened to you … and it was hard because you do just want to help so much. I didn’t do a good job of controlling things, probably should have taken some time off but I didn’t.”
Varner missed the cut in five of his next seven PGA Tour events.
He eventually recovered enough toward the end of the year to make the FedEx Cup playoffs.
He seems to thrive on the Royal Pines course. Before he won last year, he was runner-up in 2015. “I’ve had a blast every time I’ve come down and obviously it helps to play well here.”
Varner will be teeing it up against Greg Norman medal winner Marc Leishman and 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia, so playing well is going to be an absolute necessity if he is to defend his win from a year ago.
He is also hoping to get a chance to go up against Tiger Woods. “I just want to play well so I can say, oh, I went toe-to-toe with Tiger. That would be the coolest thing in the world, like what I grew up thinking about,” Varner said.