Rewind to 2014 when he had the world at his feet. He was South Africa’s top-ranked amateur golfer and was on track to become the next big thing.
Then in June that year, while playing the Amateur Championship, he tested positive for beta blockers. The medication was prescribed to assist with the treatment of his severe stutter and, at that stage, he was unaware of the regulations pertaining to banned substances.
The automatic suspension would have spanned two years, but the International Golf Federation reduced the time to nine months after his hearing, where it became apparent that he did not use the medication for competitive advantage.
“When I found out that I was suspended it was a shock, because I had been using beta blockers for five years on a prescription and no-one in South Africa had explained the anti-doping information to me. I took the medication and thought it was fine,” he said.
“I first heard the suspension was for two years and I told my dad that I couldn’t sit at home and practise for that long. Luckily it was reduced to nine months, but the key thing was to stay positive and keep grinding at the golf,” he added.
He had to wait until March this year for a chance to compete again, but when that time came his true colours showed.
“My first week back in March was stressful, because I knew I had a point to prove. I wanted to show everyone that I can go without beta blockers and still win golf tournaments. I was so nervous that I was shaking on the tee, because it felt like I hadn’t played golf in years, but the first round back I shot 68 and it was a relief for me!” he said.
His suspension forced him to miss out on Sunshine Tour Qualifying School, and throughout the year he’s relied on invitations to get into tournaments. He’s certainly made the most of his chances.
“After I missed Q-School I told myself to play wherever I could and do the best that I could. This was only my fourth tournament on the Big Easy Tour, so to have two wins is really special.”
“It was a trial out there today, because the wind was blowing. I’m pleased that I stayed calm and managed to pull it off,” he said.
The future once again looks bright for the 21-year-old, who has endured tough times and come out on top. He leads the Big Easy Tour Order of Merit ahead of next week’s Tour Championship and will surely go on to bigger and better things.
“I’d like to do well again next week – the main goal is to win the Order of Merit. Hopefully I can get into some Sunshine Tour events, do well in those and work myself up from there,” he said.