After diagnosis, Billy Mayfair, golfer in US Senior Open in Omaha, now an advocate for those with autism

Posted at 6:34 PM, Jul 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-06 19:34:06-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Billy Mayfair’s claim to fame may be beating Tiger Woods in a playoff back in 1998.

But now, he’s an advocate for those with autism after being diagnosed with the condition a couple of years ago.

In 2019, after a ruling on the course that didn’t go his way, Billy Mayfair's wife Tami urged him to see a doctor.

“Really begged me and encouraged me to get tested, to see if there is anything wrong there and, of course, I fought tooth and nail and didn’t want to do it and all that good stuff, but I was diagnosed with autism, high functioning autism and all that,” said Mayfair.

Mayfair says after reading the report a lot in his life started making sense. Why he struggled in school, why he had difficulty maintaining eye contact and why he sometimes played a little slow on the course.

“So I’d get on the golf course and all of a sudden it would almost look like I was purposely slowing down. And I wasn’t, I was trying to go but that’s just the way my brain functions,” said Mayfair.

Mayfair says he tried to make daily adjustments, to overcome the slow play.

“Just understanding the patterns, so if it happens, I can catch myself and say okay, let’s don’t fall back into here or let’s do this and let’s get our mind going and like I said most of the officials on the PGA tour, they’ve been very accommodating,” said Mayfair.

He has been able to have success on the golf course.

He is now open about his autism, saying it shows those with it can do anything they want.

“I wanted people to know, that if you are diagnosed with autism, high functioning autism, you can have a normal life, you can be highly successful in your career, you can have a normal life. You can be presidents, you can be professional athletes,” said Mayfair.

Mayfair says he’s played the Omaha Country Club plenty, although the course has changed since he last played.

He's aiming for a top 10 finish and wants a chance to win when he makes the turn on Sunday.

“Anytime you go into a major, especially a US Open it’s patience. You just got to start getting patient out here. Starting tomorrow you’ll see guys start grinding a little bit harder and pressing or pushing maybe just a little bit harder,” said Mayfair.

Mayfair tees off at 7:36 am on Thursday in the first round of the tournament.