Obsession drove Aussie Batibasaga to mental institution

Sat Nov 17, 2012 11:37pm EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The desire to improve can drive professional athletes to distraction, but for Australian golfer Rika Batibasaga it became a dangerous obsession that saw him handcuffed and thrown into a Florida mental institution.

In 2008, Batibasaga, whose father played international rugby for Fiji, was a 21-year-old living in Florida and grafting on the Nationwide Tour when his world spectacularly imploded.

"I was living away from home for the first time and it all got too much for me," Batibasaga told Reuters at the Australian Masters in Melbourne on Sunday.

"I had a psychotic episode - it's called psychosis. I lost the plot because of a lack of sleep - just due to stress.

"And I couldn't control it and basically just flipped it out."

Like hundreds of other young talents drawn to the United States to chase their dreams, Batibasaga felt hard work would prove the difference after he carried countryman and former house-mate Jason Day's bag at a local tournament.

Feeling his game was not far off the professionals in that tournament, Batibasaga threw himself into a punishing training regime of 10-hour days hitting hundreds of balls, followed by running and gym sessions.

"It was stupid. It became an obsession. I felt I needed to push it a lot harder because I was almost there," he recalled.   Continued...