The psychological challenges of professional golf

You may know that four-time major winner Rory McIlroy had exchanged some heated words with Grayson Murray.

Twelve months ago Jay Monahan shocked the world of professional golf with the announcement of a master agreement between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, which funds LIV Golf. At a players' meeting following the announcement, Murray had some pretty harsh words for PGA Tour Commissioner Monahan.

McIlroy told him, “Just play better.” I won't repeat Murray's answer here. Let's just say it wasn't something you'd expect your mother to do.

It must be said that Murray, who died during the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial after taking his own life, was a tortured soul. When he won the Sony Open earlier this year, it seemed as though he had turned the corner. He spoke to the world about his mental health issues and his battle with alcoholism.

It was pretty obvious that he was still not doing well, but his death at the age of 30 was shocking and continued to dominate conversations during the Canadian Open.

McIlroy said: “It's incredibly sad first and foremost and I think we're all thinking of Grayson's family and hoping they're OK and getting through this incredibly difficult time.

“Yeah, I think, you know, it's a cliche, but it puts everything in perspective. It puts everything in perspective – you know, at the end of the day, golf is golf and yes, we play it for a living, but it pales in comparison to the things that really matter in life. That's a – I've had to realize that at times and I'm still working on overcoming that by not making golf the be-all and end-all for me. I think it's a slap in the face when something like what happened last week happened.

“Everyone out here needs to remember that we go out and do things that a lot of people can't, but at the end of the day, we're still human, and we're vulnerable and fragile, and I think if there's a lesson for everyone out there, it's just to be nicer to each other.”

McIlroy is struggling with his own problems and recently announced that he is getting a divorce.

Mackenzie Hughes was also asked about Murray's death. He wrote on social media: “So incredibly sad and shocking to hear about Grayson. I think he was a little misunderstood and was open about the struggles he had to go through, but I always felt like he had a good heart. And it seemed like he was writing a new chapter in his life. Sending love to those closest to him.”

He was asked how he feels now. Mackenzie said: “It was really, really sad. I toured with Grayson in 2016 and 2017, and I mean, it was there for everyone, their ups and downs. His life was well documented, and the fact that he had a lot of great moments and some moments that he would love to relive, I'm sure. But like I said in my post, I always felt like he had a really good heart and wanted to help people. I think he did that too, by talking about what he was struggling with.

“I think it would resonate with a lot of people if they realized that professional athletes who make a lot of money struggle with the same issues as everyone else. I mean, if that's going to be his legacy, then that's a pretty great one. That it's OK to not be OK. Yes, I think of his family and the people close to him because I know it was so sudden and unexpected. I know the Tour will now look at how we can get better there, how we can continue to help people like him who are struggling and hopefully avoid this in the future.”

When Murray spoke and wrote about his problems, he hinted that he had not received much support from the PGA Tour. Phil Mickelsonone person, who still divides opinion, responded to X by writing, “I'm sorry that participating in the Tour has been so overwhelming and if I can help in any way I would be happy to. It's certainly not an easy life and even if you win every year you can experience other challenges. FYI, 'We'll get back to you' is the only response I've ever received. [from the Tour] to.”

Before his emotional victory in Canada, Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre had spoken about the difficulties he had in adjusting to life on the PGA Tour, and many others had struggled with the same.

Chris Kirk is another who has turned to alcohol to combat the loneliness of life on tour. Unlike Murray, he seems to have found a solution and a way to cope. He is proud of how he has managed it.

At the very least, we can only hope that everyone involved will learn from Murray's tragic suicide and that anyone seeking help will be offered it without questions asked.

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