Former British golfer and CBS analyst Peter Oosterhuis says he has early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
The 67-year-old Oosterhuis went public with the news in Golf World’s digital magazine Monday with hopes it can bring attention and raise money toward finding a cure.
Oosterhuis is a six-time Ryder Cup player from England who became part of the golf broadcast team for CBS Sports. He announced in January he was stepping away from television work.
He first disclosed his diagnosis at a fundraiser last month at Pebble Beach for the Nantz National Alzheimer Center at Houston Methodist Neurological Center. It was founded in 2011 by CBS Sports host Jim Nantz, whose father was afflicted with Alzheimer’s for 13 years before he died in 2008.
Oosterhuis says he had been aware of some memory loss affecting his work on CBS and Golf Channel.
“Maybe in the course of my commentary, I wasn’t giving a lot of information like I used to. I would just talk about what’s on the screen,” he said. “But I didn’t feel like I had those things ready in my mind to call on to make a point like I used to.”
He said a neurologist in Charlotte, North Carolina, diagnosed him last July, and for several months, Oosterhuis and wife Roothie chose to tell no one. His wife says going public at the Pebble Beach fundraiser was important for both of them.
“It gave us a chance to say goodbye to everybody in a beautiful way, and it gave us the new focus of being part of Jim’s incredible effort,” Roothie Oosterhuis said. “As human beings, it took awhile to come back to ourselves. But now, even though we don’t like the cards we were dealt, we are ready to play them. Because we are basically happy people, and we can still have happiness.”
Oosterhuis was tall for his time at 6-foot-5 with an elegant swing. He won seven times on the European Tour and also won the Canadian Open. He lost in a playoff in the 1974 Monsanto Open to Lee Elder, a victory that led Elder to become the first black to compete in the Masters.
Oosterhuis had a 14-11-3 record in the Ryder Cup, a remarkable achievement considering he never played on a winning team.