Bowditch buries demons

GOLF

To understand the real significance of Steven Bowditch's maiden US PGA Tour victory in the Texas Open you have to know the dark road he's travelled.

The 30-year-old Queenslander's one-shot triumph at TPC San Antonio is not just a career-changer for him, it's an inspiration for all other sufferers of clinical depression.

Bowditch knows the rewards - a $1.21 million winner's cheque, two-year US tour exemption and a Masters debut at Augusta National next week - won't cure him.

But, having fought back from the deepest despair, Bowditch is proof anybody, with the right support network and attitude, can not only survive, but thrive.

At his depths, during his rookie US tour season in 2006, Bowditch made just two cuts in 22 starts, withdrawing three times and being disqualified on four other occasions, as he battled to even get himself to the golf course.

Such was the black fog he was in, he would often burst into tears at the thought of playing.

"I don't think I've ever overcome it. You just deal with it on a day-to-day basis and learn about yourself and move on forward," said Bowditch after his win.

"My life won't change. I have a great life right now, I couldn't wish for a better family life. I couldn't ask for better health or friends around me."

Set to soar from his modest No 339 world ranking, Bowditch has always been recognised as an enormous talent in Australian golf circles and he showed it at San Antonio, triumphing despite a final round of four-over-par 76 in windy conditions to finish at eight-under 280 on the tough Greg Norman-designed Oaks Course.

It was the third win by an Australian on the tour in five weeks, following Jason Day in the WGC-Match Play Championship and John Senden in the Valspar Championship.

There to congratulate him by the 18th green were fellow Aussie tour pros including Senden who, like Bowditch, is part of a big Australian contingent based in Texas who support each other.

"I am really proud of him, he's a battler and he did a great job. You have to be proud of him," Senden said.

"He's gone through a lot in his life and it's great to see him come out the other end."

While he chooses not to focus on the difficult past, or talk about it very much, Bowditch has helped out beyondblue, the Australian non-profit organisation raising awareness about depression, with a DVD he made to inspire others with the affliction.

Now he gets to experience the dream of every golfer when he drives down Magnolia Lane next week for the first time to play in the Masters, alongside Senden, Day, defending champion Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and amateur Oliver Goss.

"The only time I've played Augusta is on the Playstation," Bowditch joked. - AAP

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