Ewen Ferguson lifts lid on illness struggles - my heartrate was going really strange

Scot opens up on health issue as he heads into home assignment as three-time DP World Tour winner

Sheltering from the rain that had arrived almost bang on time on the East Lothian coast, newly-crowned BMW International Open champion Ewen Ferguson was in

jovial mood as he chatted to a small group of golf writers at the back of the range at The Renaissance Club in East Lothian before starting to gear up for this week’s Genesis Scottish Open.

He joked about seeing “500 quid go down the drain” after missing a flight home from London on Sunday on his journey back from Munich after landing a third DP World Tour triumph, this one being his biggest yet both in terms of the stature of events and the players he beat. The 28-year-old was also very funny when he talked about now being at a stage in his career where he can no longer be the person ensuring that tickets etc have been sorted for his proud parents, Mark and Dorothy, when they come along to watch him at events.

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“You know what it’s like, you see your wee mum and you go: ‘Aw, it’s my wee ma and da, you alright?’” he said. “But all of a sudden you’re standing over a five- footer and it’s pouring with rain and you think: ‘You ok mum, you need my brolly?!’ Nope, I need to concentrate. That’s the way it has to be and they do understand that now (laughing).”

Scotland's Ewen Ferguson poses with the trophy after winning the BMW International Open Golf tournament in Munich/Eichenried, Germany, Sunday, July 7, 2024.  (Christian Kolbert/kolbert-press/dpa via AP)Scotland's Ewen Ferguson poses with the trophy after winning the BMW International Open Golf tournament in Munich/Eichenried, Germany, Sunday, July 7, 2024.  (Christian Kolbert/kolbert-press/dpa via AP)
Scotland's Ewen Ferguson poses with the trophy after winning the BMW International Open Golf tournament in Munich/Eichenried, Germany, Sunday, July 7, 2024. (Christian Kolbert/kolbert-press/dpa via AP)

It was no laughing matter, though, when Ferguson talked openly about his recent battle with vertigo, having been forced to retire at last month’s European Open in Hamburg in his first attempt to overcome the health condition before then showing no ill effects on his return to Germany last week, when he set up his win by carding a sensational 64 in the second circuit at Golfclub München Eichenried.

“In Japan (playing in the ISPS Handa Championship) this year, I didn't feel great,” he replied to being asked when he realised that something was amiss in terms of his health. “But sometimes you just don’t feel great and you just think ‘oh, I’m not well today’. But I stayed in Japan just to spend time cutting about cities and there was a lot of walking. A couple of times, I was like ‘something really weird is going on’.

“I thought maybe it’s the food, maybe it’s the travelling, but something is really going on. I texted my dad and he said you’re fine, you’ve had a lot of stress. And you do. But I’m like ‘no, I think it’s deeper than that’. I just kept seeing doctors and stuff. I went back to Dubai (where he lives) to practice and was just wiped. My full face complexion was just all white. My heartrate was going really strange, my eyesight was so blurry.

“Everything was just spinning around you. When I was standing up, I felt like I was going to just stumble. It was all over the place. That was just a week after Japan and I thought ‘oh no’. But there was a three-week natural break in the schedule and I wasn’t playing for a while. It made me realise I like golf more than I thought!”

On the back of his latest victory, Ferguson secured a spot in the 152nd Open at Royal Troon, safeguarded his DP World Tour card for two seasons beyond this one and also jumped into the reckoning for the ten PGA Tour spots for next year up for grabs through the Race to Dubai. In a nutshell, he’s suddenly feeling better about both his career and state of health than a few weeks ago.

“It’s still not totally perfect. I still get days when it’s not right,” he added. “I’ll start getting headaches due to the vertigo and I’ll start feeling super ill. When it’s that bad, I’ll basically just need to go and lie in a dark room for about five hours. When it first happened, I was in bed for about ten days. I was back home in Scotland and had managed to see some doctors.

“Nobody really seemed to know what was wrong, so I started thinking it could be something really bad. I was sitting in the house one Sunday night watching the PGA Tour, it was when Bob won the Canadian Open with his dad caddying for him. I was watching them thinking ‘that’s amazing’. I had goosebumps watching them because I know both of them.

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“I felt like I needed to get back out playing. I went back to play in Germany but really struggled in the first round. I shot one-under and thought I’d maybe got away with it. But, next day, I phoned my dad and told him I basically thought I couldn’t play because the vertigo was so bad.

“I literally couldn’t hole a two-foot putt because my eyesight had just gone. I remember travelling back to the airport that night and thinking that I’m going to end up back on the Challenge Tour. That’s what’s tough about golf. If you can’t play, you start thinking you can’t keep your card.

“If you’re a footballer and not playing, you’ll still get paid. You’ve got a contract. It’s not like that in golf. You need to play to earn money. But, thankfully, we managed to find some solutions and medication that worked. It makes you really tired though, so I need to be careful in terms of when I take it. For instance, if I have an early tee time in the morning, I won’t take it the night before because it makes you really drowsy. But it has lowered the symptoms so much. And now that I have had my MRIs and know it’s nothing really serious, it does calm me down and I know: Oh, this is going on, just relax.

“I have been speaking with my psychologist about it and that stuff, which does really help. When it does happen, call him, chat, it calms me down, there are a lot worse things on because at that time you don’t know what is going on. On Sunday, I was actually thinking about wanting to play for the exemption. I know that sounds a bit daft probably, but I’m thinking if I win this, next year, the year after, the PGA Tour card, where you really want to be, it just changes things.”

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