Matthew Wolff had a rather inconspicuous weekend at the US Open. True, he started Saturday in third place and was just one shot off the lead. But he was pretty average on Saturday and Sunday, and finished the tournament at +1 — still good for a tie of 15th place, but far from threatening to win it all.
And for Wolff, that’s just fine. The 22-year-old, who finished as runner-up at last year’s US Open, was playing his first golf in almost two months.
That two-month break was self-imposed. Wolff had a string of tough finishes early in the year, including an opening round 83 that prompted him to withdraw from the WGC-Workday Championship. Then in April, he was disqualified from the Masters for signing an incorrect scorecard.
Far from just bad luck, or a bad run, Wolff’s mental health was falling apart.
“When I make people happy, that makes me happy.” @matthew_wolff5 on the importance of athletes discussing their mental health.#USOpen pic.twitter.com/sGBeVpi8U6
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) June 19, 2021
“I just didn’t quite know how to deal with it. As good as my life is, 22 years old and on the PGA Tour, there’s also a lot of stress and pressure that comes along with it, and it got to me,” Wolff told reporters on the weekend. “I was hopeless for five months. And I was really struggling.”
He decided to step away, a decision that couldn’t have been easy. Getting help for yourself — especially when you exist in the public eye — tends to leave little room for privacy. But Wolff faced reporters’ questions head-on in his first tournament back, and was frank about his struggle. It’s a struggle that he knows isn’t over.
“I mean, Thursday and even today, even after playing well yesterday, I was still like I wanted to stay in bed,” Wolff admitted. “I wanted to be like where I was comfortable, not in the spotlight.”
He said that his focus for the weekend was just to enjoy playing again — to keep a level head, even through bad putts and missed fairways. And he says he accomplished that. But he also recognizes that mental health is more than a single battle; more than just one weekend with a positive attitude. “I’ll probably be working on the same thing that I’m working on now for the rest of my career.”