Golfer with autism advocates for those on the spectrum on PGA Tour

Billy Mayfair is a winner of five PGA Tour events, including the 1995 Tour Championship title and is the only golfer to ever beat Tiger Woods in a playoff hole.
Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 7:03 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - For 32 years, golf has been Billy Mayfair’s life, 26 of which he spent on the PGA Tour.

A winner of five PGA Tour events including the 1995 Tour Championship title and the only golfer to ever beat Tiger Woods in a playoff hole, the 54-year-old from Arizona has quite the decorated career. A discovery in 2019 changed everything for him on and off the course.

After being by encouraged by his wife to take tests, Mayfair was told by doctors he had high-functioning autism.

“It’s actually helped me a great deal. Now I realize why I had problems in school,” Mayfair said after playing a practice round at the American Family Championship in Wisconsin.

“Now I realize why I had some problems with yardages and why maybe my slow play every once in a while comes into play. Because it’s the way my brain functions.”

At first Mayfair responded with denial but since coming out about his Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis, he has embraced being a voice for autism awareness.

“I’m coming out and telling everybody this because I want people to know even if you are diagnosed with autism you can still live your dreams. You can play sports. You can be very successful in everything that you do.”

“More importantly, you can be married, happy, have children and have a happy family. That’s what some people need to know.”

This discovery has not just made Mayfair a better golfer but husband and father too as he now knows its OK to take extra time to think about choices throughout his day. Now his biggest victories happen off the course.

“It’s amazing to me how many people have come out and talked to me about it. Guys on the tour but also just regular people calling me up and talking to me and saying, ‘Hey I always thought I had an issue, I got tested because of you.’ That’s worth it all. If I help one or two people in all this, it’s worth every second.”

Billy and his wife are now working to start a foundation to help the families of those with autism. As for his game, Mayfair says he feels just as good playing today as he did when he graduated from Arizona State at the age of 22.

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