Bill Nichols

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Steven Bowditch's ascent: From rock bottom to second at Colonial

FORT WORTH — Steven Bowditch has ridden rounds of 67-64 to a four-way tie for second at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

But reaching his current position has been an arduous trek. His scorecard goes much deeper than birdies and bogeys.

If things had gone as planned five years ago, he wouldn’t be on the leaderboard. He would have drowned in the pool of his Addison residence. Instead, he was pulled from the water and resuscitated. He has been battling back from depression ever since.

Bowditch seems well on his way to establishing himself on the PGA Tour. He tied for ninth at Pebble Beach and ranks 117th in FedEx Cup points. Only 27, he seems strengthened by the past and firmly focused on the future.

He is engaged to Fox Sports producer Amanda Yarussi, who cheered him on during Friday’s seven-birdie, one-bogey round. Their September wedding will be at the Four Seasons Resort and Club at Las Colinas, site of next week’s HP Byron Nelson Championship.

He has been working with a program to raise awareness about depression, hoping his story will lead others to seek treatment.

But he also has moved beyond rehashing his tumultuous history at every event. After all, he’s trying to win a tournament.

“That’s basically something that’s in the past,” he said. “That’s where it is. Living in the future.”

The last time Bowditch played a full season on the PGA Tour, in 2006, he was disqualified four times, withdrew three times and made only two cuts in 22 starts.

A story in Golf Digest two years ago shed light on his painful struggles. It told of him going 12 nights without sleeping, drinking a bottle of whiskey, putting on heavy clothes and then jumping in the pool. He was discovered floating by his then-girlfriend. He began treatment after being released from the hospital.

Bowditch, runner-up at the 2000 World Junior Championship, was considered by many to be the next great Australian. But that didn’t exempt him from paying dues. While playing the Troppo Tour, a pro-am circuit in Australia, he camped in a tent with his friend.

“I was young and broke,” he said. “You’ve got to start somewhere, and that’s where I started.”

It has taken Bowditch 10 years to reach this point. The tough journey could enhance his destination.

“I’m always constantly believing in, what I’m doing and I haven’t changed that from the start,” he said. “I turned professional when I was 18. So, you know, it’s just a process. I’m not even 28 yet. So it’s not that big a deal. The career hasn’t really started.”

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