Christiaan Bezuidenhout is a name foreign to most American golf fans. That won't be the case after the South African's story is heard.
Bezuidenhout, a fledgling talent currently on the European Tour, wrote a blog post for the tour's website. In the article, Bezuidenhout details his brush with death as a child, and the lifelong complications that resulted from the incident.
"When I was a baby whilst playing with friends in the street I drank rat poison in a freak accident," Bezuidenhout wrote. "I was two and a half years old and I was playing outside when I picked up a random Coke bottle, I took a drink of it thinking it was indeed Coke, however it actually contained rat poison. It was a moment which would change my life forever."
Bezuidenhout said he almost died from the poisoning. At the hospital, doctors had to pump his stomach, but the poison had spread throughout his nervous system.
"One of the long-term effects of this led to me having a stutter," Bezuidenhout said. "That stutter would eventually lead me to develop a severe case of anxiety."
Bezuidenhout revealed the stutter led to an introverted lifestyle and depression, the latter which has only improved in the past four to five years. Worse, the medication Bezuidenhout was taking to control his anxiety inadvertently triggered a failed drug test during the 2014 British Amateur at Royal Portrush, one that led to a suspension and kept him out of the Eisenhower Trophy, the biennial world amateur team championship.
"It was awful. I had spent my whole amateur career working to get into that Eisenhower side to represent my nation, it was a huge goal of mine to be selected in the team," Bezuidenhout said. "To be told two days before the event that I couldn’t go because of a two year drugs ban was simply too much for me to take in. It felt like my life was over.
"The worst part of it all were all the stories that came out from people in the golf industry and supposed close friends back home. I was accused of using it to better my performances, which really hurt me and my family. A lot of nasty things were said and I was known as the guy banned from golf for a drug related incident. I was aware of how labels like that are hard to shake off and I reached a very low point in my life, I was banned from playing the only thing in the world I loved, the game of golf. I was inconsolable."
But the story has a happy ending, as Bezuidenhout won his first mini-tour event in return from the suspension. He would eventually earn Rookie of the Year honors on the Sunshine Tour, which granted membership to the European circuit. He's had a so-so start to this campaign, missing the cut in four of eight starts, but the 24-year-old remains optimistic about his future.
"I’ve made mistakes but every tournament that passes I learn more and the next goal for me is to win on the European Tour, qualify for Majors and I would love to be heading to Portrush this summer," Bezuidenhout said.