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Golfer Will Wilcox: ‘I blew millions on heroin and almost ruined my career’

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In June 2015, pro golfer Will Wilcox was standing on the green at the final hole of the Fed-Ex St. Jude Championship in Memphis, Tenn. Ahead of him was a snaking 40-foot putt. 

Make it and there was a check for $114,000 waiting. 

Cool as you like, Wilcox stepped up and drained it like it was a tap-in.

“Most players would look at that as a good week’s work and go home. But I didn’t. I just went straight to a heroin dealer’s house to score. Ended up having a knife pulled on me too,” he said, matter of factly. 

“That’s drugs. They take you to some strange, dark places.” 

As this week’s PGA Championship concludes at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla., and players chase the $2.16 million first prize, it’s worth remembering that not every professional golfer lives a life of luxury. 

Will Wilcox certainly doesn’t — but he has his reasons. 

Wilcox
While one of Alabama’s most talented young golfers, Wilcox started drinking, smoking marijuana and popping pills with his friends at just 13 years old, leading to a golf career full of difficult setbacks.
Roger Kisby for NY Post

The 35-year-old grew up in Pell City, Ala., a small town just east of the state’s second biggest city, Birmingham. His mother, Kim, was a talented golfer who once dreamt of playing the LPGA Tour but worked as the head professional at their local track, Pine Harbor Country Club. 

When he got his first set of clubs aged five, Wilcox accompanied his mom to work, taking full advantage of the facilities and, over time, honing a game that marked him out as one of the state’s most talented young golfers.

But Pell City was no place to grow up. 

Wilcox
Some of Will Wilcox’s earliest friends, who used drugs with him, have gone to prison or died.
Roger Kisby for NY Post

In his teens, new temptations emerged. Aged 13, he socialized with older kids, who were drinking, smoking marijuana and popping pills — and he dived right in. 

Of the eight people in Wilcox’s high school friendship group, one became a successful engineer, three went to prison for up to 10 years and three are now dead. “My home town and my high school were — and I’m really not kidding — like an open air drug market,” says Wilcox. “In that respect, I’m very much a product of my own environment.”

Wilcox’s teens and early 20s were peppered with petty crime and arrests as alcohol and drugs took him in the wrong direction. It culminated in him being thrown off the golf team at University of Alabama at Birmingham, where his mother was then coaching the women’s team. He was, he admits, his parents’ “worst nightmare.”

Kicked out by his parents, Wilcox moved in with his sister in Auburn, Ala. He took a job making pizzas for $5.50 an hour, working 45 hours a week, and paying his sister $100 monthly rent. Another job came at a paper mill where he earned $9 an hour.

Running out of options, he tried to join the Navy in 2006 — but even they didn’t want him, not with his rap sheet. With no money and no future, he took his golf clubs to a pawn shop but when they offered him just $50, he decided to keep them.

It was that rarest of things — a good decision at a time when Wilcox was making too many bad ones.

Wilcox
Despite his addictions, Wilcox made about $4 million in winnings and sponsorships from 2014-2018.
Roger Kisby for NY Post

Then his luck changed. A friend of his father’s, Barry Harwell, was coach of Division II college Clayton State, outside Atlanta, Ga. He offered Wilcox a full ride. It was the break he needed — and he delivered in spades. A three-time All-American, Wilcox also won eight college events and the 2008 Alabama Amateur Championship.

There were blips. While at Clayton, Wilcox overdosed on cocaine and was hospitalized, his heart rate hitting 222 BPM. Not surprisingly, he never touched it again.

But very little else was off limits and, increasingly, he turned to opioids like Percocet, Xanax and Hydrocodone. He was even snorting heroin, though Wilcox knew people who had died doing it. “I have tons of regrets and that’s a big one,” he said.

Wilcox
The golfer’s parents, only seeing his success, didn’t realize he had problems at first.
Roger Kisby for NY Post

Despite his addictions, he went on to go pro and make big money. From 2014-2018, Wilcox amassed around $4 million from winnings and sponsorships. 

“And that, for me, was a license to party,” he said.

He was still on heroin when he waltzed onto the Nationwide Tour in 2011. “I started making good money there,” he recalled. “I must have made a couple of hundred grand but I’d lost it all by 2012 just because of the drugs.”

By 2013, Wilcox had relocated to St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands, to get himself clean. He began playing some of the best golf of his young life, including shooting the Holy Grail of the game, a sub-60 round at the Utah Championship. 

‘My home town and my high school were — and I’m really not kidding — like an open air drug market.’

Will Wilcox

But as the checks kept coming, the cravings returned — and Wilcox began using again.

Back in Alabama, Wilcox’s family were largely oblivious to his off-course issues. With a healthy bank balance, he would often treat his parents, almost to throw them off the scent. “I would get their yard landscaped or pay for something they needed to be done to their house,” he said. “In their eyes, I was the golden boy.”

It’s only now that they know the extent of Wilcox’s struggles. “Back then, I might give them snippets of what I was doing but I would really bend the truth,” he said. “Besides, you don’t want to scare your family. You definitely need to sugar coat it some.”

Wilcox
Wilcox said he would “treat” his family to throw them off the scent.
Jon Durr/Getty Images

Fortunately for Wilcox, drug testing in the game was relatively lax. “You’re tested maybe twice a year but you still have to be careful,” he explained. “You just have to watch what you take and stay hydrated.”

He wasn’t always successful. In 2013, aged 27, he won the South Georgia Classic and finished seventh on the Korn Ferry Tour money list, earning himself a ticket to the gold-paved streets of the PGA Tour. 

But a positive test for marijuana at the Boise Open in Idaho before his rookie season started landed him a six-month suspension. “Of all the things I’d taken, it was weed that got me,” he laughed. “You can take opiates like hydrocodone and that’s OK. Go ahead, take that stuff that turns your organs to concrete. Have at it. Eat a big bowl of ’em for breakfast!”

Wilcox
Will Wilcox’s mother was the head professional golfer at their local track when he was growing up.
Instagram/@wavegodwilcox1

When he finally took his place on the PGA Tour in 2014, Wilcox couldn’t believe he had made it. “I remember looking for my locker. They’re all lined up alphabetically so I get to mine and whose is it right next to it? Tiger Woods! F—–g crazy!”

He played rounds with many top players, including Brooks Koepka, former world No. 1 Jason Day and the 2009 US Open champion Lucas Glover. “He’s one of my favorite players and the first time I played with him I shot 65 and he shot 77,” he said. “I couldn’t believe I’d beaten a US Open champion by 12 shots over 18 holes. I was like ‘what the f–k!’” 

Everything seemed to be going to plan, even if he was suffering from withdrawal symptoms most weeks.

Wilcox
Wilcox publicly blamed his 2017 career decline on a wrist injury.
Roger Kisby for NY Post

Golf fans were rooting for him. “I’m a small-town kid from Alabama — ain’t no silver spoon here. I didn’t grow up playing elite clubs like Riviera or frickin’ Shinnecock,” he said. “Maybe people liked that? I was kind of an underdog out there, an everyman I guess.”

Like the prodigal son, Wilcox returned to Pell City in December 2014 but on Christmas Day he found himself not at home with his family, but in a run-down hotel room scoring heroin from a dealer. “It’s what happens when you’re addicted,” he reflects. “And then I had to go home for the family dinner. Let’s say I was very inebriated.”

Having qualified for the lucrative end of season FedEx Cup playoffs in 2015, Wilcox was unable to play in the second event of the PGA Tour, the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston, having spent the week before smoking weed and popping pills. A positive drug test was a risk he couldn’t afford so he withdrew, blaming it on a minor injury.

Wilcox
Wilcox is one of just seven players to make a hole-in-one at the the famed 17th hole at Sawgrass.
YouTube

Wilcox returned to action the following season, and even made a hole-in-one at the most famous par-three hole in golf — the 17th at Sawgrass — during the Players’ Championship in 2016. It was the first ace there in 14 years and Wilcox remains just one of seven players to do it. His family were there in the gallery to see it too. 

It was a rare highlight in a year that saw his form and health deteriorate. By 2017, his 73-event run on the PGA Tour was over. Publicly, his decline was blamed on a wrist injury but only Wilcox knew the real reason.

‘I’m lucky that I’ve come out the other side and I haven’t destroyed my organs and my body.’

Will Wilcox

By the end of 2021, he had even lost his card for the second-string Korn Ferry Tour and, disillusioned, decided to retire from golf, aged just 35. 

But, without the day-to-day distraction of playing, Wilcox was at a crossroads. He could carry on using and end up as another statistic or seek help. “I was withering away, mentally and physically, which was becoming more and more clear to my loved ones — so they intervened,” he said. 

Woods
When Wilcox joined the PGA Tour in 2014, his locker was right next to Tiger Woods.
USA TODAY Sports

His friends and family rallied around, finding him a treatment center. In February, he attended the clinic of Dr Krishna Donaparthi in Atlanta, Ga., a specialist who uses electro-shocking of the brain to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal by up to 70%. “It cost as much as a Honda Civic,” said Wilcox. “But I credit Dr. Krishna for saving my life, I really do.”

A few months later, Wilcox is back in the groove. “Now I have clarity in my mind,” he said. “I feel like a kid again.”

In April, he won his first event without his “birdie pills,” cantering to a seven-stroke win at an Emerald Coast Golf Tour event at the Holiday Golf Club in Panama City, Fla. It was the first time he had won a tournament clean.

“Just holding a big check again means the world,” he said after his victory, “and getting it sober means even more.”

On Thursday May 5, Wilcox and 84 other players took part in local qualifying for this year’s US Open, to be played at The Country Club, Brookline, Mass., from June 16-19. With just five places available for the next and final stage of qualifying, Wilcox shot 66 at RTJ Golf Trail at Silver Lakes in Gadsden, Ala., and comfortably made it through. 

Next up is Final Qualifying at Woodmont Country Club in Rockland, Md., on June 6 where Wilcox will attempt to go one better and make it through to the starting field.

Wilcox
Wilcox’s next aim is to get back his PGA Tour card.
Roger Kisby for NY Post

Next, he will attempt to regain his PGA Tour card. “I’m lucky that I’ve come out the other side and I haven’t destroyed my organs and my body. I can still swing the club pretty well,” said Wilcox, who is single and has no children.

And if the golf doesn’t work out then the 35-year-old, now living in Moody, Ala., is happy to help spread the word about the dangers of drug abuse. “I just want to raise some awareness about what kind of wild s–t that’s going on with kids these days,” he said. “The number one cause of death for 18-40 year-old males in America is overdose and that’s a big deal. 

“I should have died many times in my life but if I can stop anybody from going down that path then that’s what I want to do.”

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What Time Will ‘Riverdale’ Season 6 Be on Netflix?

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The season finale of Riverdale aired in late July on The CW. Notice we said season finale? Thankfully, the beloved series will return for a seventh season, but, unfortunately, Season 7 will be the final installment of Riverdale.

If you already streamed the current season, make sure to read Alex Zalben’s interview with Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa on Decider. If you’re waiting to binge Season 6 on Netflix, well, you better clear your calendar because all 22 episodes are about to drop on the streamer. What time will the sixth season of Riverdale debut on Netflix? What time does Netflix release shows? Here’s everything you need to know.

WHEN IS THE RIVERDALE SEASON 6 NETFLIX RELEASE DATE?

Riverdale Season 6 premieres Sunday, August 7 on Netflix.

HOW MANY EPISODES ARE IN RIVERDALE SEASON 6?

The sixth season of Riverdale consists of 22 episodes.

WHAT TIME DOES NETFLIX RELEASE NEW SHOWS?

Netflix releases new episodes at 3:00 a.m. ET/12:00 a.m. PT.

WHAT TIME WILL RIVERDALE SEASON 6 BE ON NETFLIX?

Netflix is based out of California, so Riverdale Season 6 will be available to stream at 12:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (3:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time) beginning Sunday, August 7. If the clock strikes 12:00 (or 3:00 a.m. for folks on the East Coast) and you don’t see the new episodes, give it a moment, hit refresh, and then enjoy the show!

WILL THERE BE A SEASON 7 OF RIVERDALE?

Yes! Decider recently covered that very topic.

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Actress Anne Heche Suffers Severe Burns After Crashing Car Into Los Angeles Home

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Actress Anne Heche, known for her roles in such films as Donnie Brasco, Volcano and I Know What You Did Last Summer, was involved in a fiery car crash in the Mar Vista area of Los Angeles on Friday.

According to TMZ, Heche was driving a blue Mini Cooper and had first crashed into the garage of an apartment complex. Residents of the apartment complex tried to get her out of the vehicle but she backed up and sped off.

Footage of Heche speeding down the streets of her neighborhood had been obtained by TMZ as well as her initial encounter at the apartment complex.

In the first clip, you can hear her car crash towards the end. It has been reported that the actress crashed into someone’s home, causing her vehicle and the house to erupt into flames. Heche suffered severe burns and was resisting being taken away in a stretcher. You can also view footage of this via the TMZ article.

It has not been confirmed whether alcohol has been involved in the incident since her condition prevents doctors from performing any tests to determine if she was driving under the influence. She is currently intubated in the hospital but expected to live.

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These are the vulgar license-plate requests the DMV has rejected

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Stay CL4SSY, New York!

The state Department of Motor Vehicles nixed 3,752 requests for vanity license plates in the last three years because it deemed them too raunchy, radical or simply ridiculous.

New York’s personalized plates go for $60 initially, and then $31.25 annually for renewal. You can get any plate as long as no one else has it and it’s not offensive.

Odds are a request for a plate that marks a wedding anniversary or shows your allegiance to a team — like METS86 — will pass muster with the DMV gatekeepers.

Vulgarity won’t get you to first base.

So plates with the phrase LFGM — the acronym for Pete Alonso’s “Let’s F–king Go Mets” rallying cry — did not make the cut.

And you won’t see anyone driving around with the custom plates MILFDAD, AS5M4N and WLHUNG.

Crude meanings such as “MILFDAD” are unacceptable by the DMV.
Crude meanings such as “MILFDAD” are unacceptable by the DMV.
New York DMV
NYC123
New York state Department of Motor Vehicles denied more than 3.5 thousand requests for license plates deemed inappropriate.
New York DMV
“AS5M4N” was rejected for referring to “Ass man.”
“AS5M4N” was rejected for referring to “Ass man.”
New York DMV

The DMV also put NICEBUNS, FATFANNY, GOTAPOOP and BENDOVER in the rear-view mirror.

One player unsuccessfully tried to score the plate YESDADDY, to no avail.

The DMV also shot down such dark requests as DEADGIRL, GENOC1DE, S8TAN, DETONATE and MURDERM3.

“SUM8ITCH” is not allowed.
“SUM8ITCH” is not allowed.
New York DMV
The DMV thoroughly nixed a request for “CNNLIES.”
The DMV thoroughly nixed a request for “CNNLIES.”
New York DMV
BOOBIE is prohibited.
BOOBIE is prohibited.
New York DMV

Getting political is a dead end too — FJOEBIDN, FDTRUMP and CNNLIES were nixed.

LUDEDUDE, NARCO, GOT METH and BLUNT also went up in smoke.

Staten Island attorney Bill Dertinger said his blue 1995 Jaguar SJS was tagged with ESQLTD after his company and his 2014 Porsche had the plate GHOSTGTS because the sleek sportscar was white.

“The plates can make you stand out — which can be a curse or a blessing,” the 54-year-old Dertinger said. “Make sure you don’t cut anybody off.”

A man attempted to sneak in “YESDADDY” onto his license plate.
A man attempted to sneak in “YESDADDY” onto his license plate.
New York DMV
The DMV stopped a request for “FJOEBIDEN.”
The DMV stopped a request for “FJOEBIDEN.”
New York DMV
The DMV also rejects any license plates referring to politics.
The DMV also rejects any license plates referring to politics.
New York DMV

There must be a New York Jets fan playing referee at the DMV because a request for the seemingly innocent plate GASE was sidelined. Ex-Jets head coach Adam Gase had an offensive 9-23 win-loss record during his forgettable two-year tenure.

The DMV would not reveal who gives the final yea or nay.

“The DMV reviews all custom license plate requests and works hard to ensure that any combinations that may be considered objectionable are rejected,” said agency spokesman Tim O’Brien.

“GLOCKS” referring to guns is not accepted by the DMV.
“GLOCKS” referring to guns is not accepted by the DMV.
New York DMV
“FLYMOFO” is not approved by the DMV.
“FLYMOFO” is not approved by the DMV.
New York DMV

He said guidelines on what plate combinations are restricted can be found on the DMV website: https://dmv.ny.gov/learn-about-personalized-plates. Approximately 50,000 personalized and custom plates are sold per year, O’Brien said.

Bagged Tags

The state DMV has rejected 3,752 requests for custom license plates in the last three years because it deemed them potentially offensive. Here are some:

YESDADDY

FJOEBIDN

FDTRUMP

GLOCKS

FLYMOFO

BOOBIE

AS5M4N

BUDLIGHT

DEADGIRL

SUM8ITCH

GENOC1DE

S8TAN

CNNLIES

DETONATE

MURDERM3

MILFDAD

WLHUNG

Source: NYS DMV

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