The topic of sports and mental health are becoming more and more intertwined. And this year’s Masters was no exception. While headlines of Tiger Woods’ triumphant return from injury were often accompanied with stories of his legendary mental fortitude, the true story of the tournament revolved around golf’s newest #1, Scottie Scheffler.
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Being #1 in golf isn’t easy, and unless your name was Tiger Woods in the early to mid-2000s, the coveted #1 ranking has been changing relatively rapidly. And in the case of Scheffler, only 4 months ago was he not world #1, he hadn’t even won a tournament. He started the tournament on Thursday with the #1 ranking and 3 wins under his belt.
Again, while Tiger Woods owned the headlines, Scheffler quietly started the week as the favorite. While many doubted his ability to keep up historic winning run, he pretty much picked up where he left off: scoring low, and rising high on the leaderboard.
As he came into Sunday with a 3 stroke lead, the public perception of a player simply being on “a hot run” had begun to fade and now a new phrase was entering the vernacular of those who spoke about Scheffler: dominant.
The word dominant in sports sounds great, but to the player, it can bring on the highest of pressures. What once was a player who hoped they would win was now a player that was expected to win.
Ultimately, Scheffler made it look easy. He came into the final whole with such a lead that an unlikely 4-putt on the 18th green only reduced his lead to three. As he donned the green jacket, most watched a player who seemed destined to be wearing it. But in post-round interviews, Scheffler told a different story about the mental health struggles he faced that Sunday morning before his win. Specifically, he said he felt he wasn’t ready for this, he was overwhelmed, and maybe didn’t quite feel like he belonged in the spotlight. And in a rare moment of vulnerability from a professional athlete when asked what he did to prepare before his round, he emphatically answer that he cried.
Our very own Dr. Bryan Weinstein, a Michigan Psychiatrist chimed in on the importance and acceptance of relying on those around. As well as recognizing that in the case of Scheffler who’s a professional athlete to anyone else, it’s OK to not feel OK and there are many avenues out there to seek out help. See more from Dr. Bryan Weinstein, Michigan Psychiatrist, below.