Considering he once came close to quitting the sport he loves to open up a pizzeria, American golfer Brendon Todd has earned the right to enjoy every single slice of life that comes his way these days. And with good reason too.
After back-to-backs wins late last year in Bermuda and Mexico, this is already a career-best season for Todd.
It’s one of golf’s great comeback stories but it’s also one that might never even have been told.
At one point along the way, the 35-year-old temporarily lost his playing status on the PGA Tour, before then missing the cut 34 times in 36 events. He even dropped outside the top 2,000 players in the world rankings.
“Golf beats you up,” said Todd, who was speaking to CNN Sport as he prepared to head into the tour’s postseason and the race for the coveted FedExCup title, “and kind of lets your mind turn on you a little bit.”
Todd fought with the frustrations, struggles and isolation golf threw at him. He also battled depression through the darkest times.
“It was something I was going through, I think, as a result of my play,” revealed Todd, who decided to consult caddie-turned-performance coach Ward Jarvis.
“I would give him the most credit for sort of teaching me how to forgive myself for not playing well and failing and how to move past those emotions.”
Through it all though, he had one constant: his wife Rachel, who he credits for never allowing him to give up.
“My whole family was very important throughout all that. They stuck by me and never, never once wavered. They don’t love me for my golf. They love me for me, which is really important.
“And so those are things that I feel fortunate to have as not everybody around the world who suffers with mental struggles has a great family and a good support group. So, I’m just really blessed.”
Almost bowing out
The current world No. 42 actually won for the first time on the PGA Tour back in 2014. But what followed was a five-year winless drought and with it all the accompanying self-doubt.
Todd also struggled with the yips which every golfer dreads, in particular one pivotal moment that still resonates from a decade ago
“I remember my first struggle with the yips, I went to a tournament and I considered hitting a short iron off the tee on a par 5 because I knew I was going to hit my driver out of bounds right, and sure enough I teed it up in the ground, I hit it 50 yards right out of bounds. And that’s a really deflating feeling!”
It was also a reality check where the resolve of lesser men may well have been broken. The following years would see more lows than highs before it became time to make a practical decision: stay in the sport or consider a career change.
Todd remembers meetings with his financial manager at the time to determine how best to support his family moving forward, with a fast-food franchise as one option on the table.
“‘Your Pie’ is a pizza franchise in Athens, Georgia that we were looking at. And for me, as somebody who has never worked in the corporate world and was sort of self-employed, that had a lot of appeal to go into some sort of franchise or business owner type of framework.
“Hopefully I would have been able to hire some good employees to run it for me because I don’t know the first thing about running a pizza business!”
But having decided to give himself one more year at golf, an offer was never made by the Pittsburgh native, which ended up being a smart move.
Todd — who’ll tell you these days when he’s playing his best golf, he’s playing as well as anybody in the world — never lost faith in his own ability. He also never lost sight of the importance of his own work ethic and the utmost determination to put things right.
He also made the key decision to enlist the help of a former tour professional, Bradley Hughes, as his swing coach.
And now it’s other golfers who seek him out for advice.
Not just junior players either, he says, but former major winners too, including the 2001 Open Champion David Duval who Todd says is “probably the best player during the Tiger era, maybe the only person to take No. 1 ranking from him, if I’m not mistaken.
“And he’s struggled with his golf game for the last decade and hasn’t been able to really figure it out. But he’s somebody who I’ve spoken with a little bit and who’s passionate about the game and especially on improving his game … and hopefully have a good career on the Champions Tour.
“So I’m always here to help guys like that. And I’m hopeful that I can you know maybe play a small part in him, you know finding some success and enjoying the game of golf again.”
Right now though, the FedEx Cup Playoffs — which began at TPC Boston over the weekend — are Todd’s sole focus in this Covid-19 affected season.
Entering the first stage of the playoffs, Todd was ranked ninth, something he calls a “huge accomplishment in my career and something I’m very proud of.”
“As close to my struggles as it has been to come back and have a year like this, it’s a real career achievement for me.”
So is he still ruling out a move into that pizza business? Todd isn’t closing the door on a potential move down the line. “I love pizza. I mean, who doesn’t?”
Not right now though. Not for someone who freely admits he’s a better player and person for all his struggles over the years.
Which ever way you cut it, the prospect of winning golf tournaments is simply proving too time consuming.