Hennie Otto has revealed how his wife helped bring him back from the brink of oblivion after surviving cancer more than once.
The 36-year-old South African, who this month became the first player to reach every major ranked in the top 100, has also been plagued by ankle problems and a pinched nerve that caused his putting game to fall apart at the start of this year.
Otto, who won the Masters twice, said his wife Zoe had been his rock. “Zoe was my biggest support. I’d be in the extreme depression that I’m talking about sometimes and, not knowing how long this was going to last, so I just kept hoping that I’d go back to where I was.
“But once you know you have an incurable disease it’s very easy to give up and it’s easy to say you’d like to die.”
Otto said his wife – also a golfer – had been “hugely supportive” and compared their relationship to that of a tennis couple.
“That’s definitely the scene as well in a tennis relationship,” he said. “There’s two women in this sort of relationship. There’s the person who’s going through it and there’s the one who’s there to support you while you’re going through it.”
Despite losing weight and quickly losing his confidence as he struggled to get used to his new body and dealing with an accident that put the pins and needles down his spine, Otto is preparing for his first tournament since winning the German Open in September last year.
He will begin his European Tour campaign at the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart, where he has a ten-year exemption, next week.
Otto’s last victory was at the BMW International Open in Munich where he won after sharing the lead after the first two rounds.
“The next round I was 42nd and then the next I was 64th,” he said. “The next level was super remote. I was losing a hundred points every day. I hit my target but I wasn’t making as many cuts as I was in the past.”
He won €72,308 and secured his fifth European Tour victory, having won the German Masters in 2014 and the LPGA Greenbrier Classic in 2014, putting him in the top 50 of the world rankings.
Otto has climbed to 31st in the rankings but his tilt at Ryder Cup selection will depend on his recent form on the Tour.