My disease journey started in April 2017 while competing at the Big Ten Championship in Baltimore. I played and won the tournament as an individual while shooting a course record on the first day of 7-under par. My team pulled out a victory as well for another Big Ten Title. But while I was playing, I knew something was wrong. I was in a lot stomach pain, and after the tournament, I ended up in the hospital.
My life changed forever - I was told that I had ulcerative colitis and that things from that moment forward would have to change. I thought having ulcerative colitis would be no problem, and I could fight through it without paying close attention. I was very wrong, and my performance on the course began to fall.
I only had one round of practice between being hospitalized and the NCAA Regional. I played but I struggled and finished tied for 28th- my worst finish of the season. My health continued to decline during the summer leading into my senior year.
When I got back to school, I immediately met with my doctors and a nutritionist. I changed my diet (no more fast food) and now go for medication infusions every eight weeks. This helped me get back to good health and performing at a high level. I am forever grateful for my doctors and the other people behind the scenes, because they helped me climb this uphill battle and conquer it to become the best that I can be.
I just graduated from college and had a great final season playing golf. I made the cut at the Valspar Championship on the PGA Tour in March and defended my title at the 3M Augusta Invitational. I also turned in a top 10 finish at the NCAA Regional. And just a few weeks ago, I made my professional debut at the U.S. Open, finishing in the Top 20.
I have embraced that I have ulcerative colitis, and carry it with me as something I can build strength from. I want other people who suffer from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis to see that they can continue to do the things they love, regardless of what people think.
I am living my dream of playing professional golf and overcoming obstacles that I did not think I could in the beginning and what doctors told me would be very difficult. The competitor in me told myself that I could not be held back so I took the steps necessary to be at the top of my game on and off the golf course. Dreams can come true when you put mind over matter. IBD does not put pressure on me; I put pressure on it. I hope all of you that have read this story can relate and/or embrace what I have said. Live your dream and be who you are.