Golf fans know three of the cats in the photo of South Africa's U.S. Open contingent above. On the far right, that's Hall of Famer Ernie Els. Next to him, defending British Open champ Louis Oosthuizen, and in the dark blue shirt, current Masters champ Charl Schwartzel. The fourth guy? His name's Christo Greyling, and he's incredibly fortunate to be on this side of that gallery fence.
Every golf tournament has its share of quiet individual triumphs, players who have overcome vast odds to be standing at golf's epicenter. This year, the spotlight shines bright on Greyling, 10 years after it was expected.
Greyling played high school golf in America alongside Ty Tryon, another cautionary golf tale. Tryon turned pro his junior year of high school, but the early pressure to succeed torpedoed his career and he never achieved expected heights. Greyling, meanwhile, went to play college golf at Georgia. But he began taking an acne medication that has known side effects that include an increased risk of depression.
He had tremendous difficulties out on the course, so much so that his teacher, David Leadbetter, recommended he stop playing. After he stopped using the medication, his symptoms improved.
But in 2009, matters grew so much worse, as his parents divorced and his father committed suicide. It would be enough to make anyone give up the game, but Greyling persisted. And this year, he made it through qualifying to tee off at 9:01 a.m. Thursday morning.
It's no comfort for his loss, and there's no way to get back those 10 years he lost, but for Greyling, Thursday will be the culmination of a lifelong dream.
Christo Greyling's mulligan [Freep.com]