Krystal Quihuis is one of, if not the bubbliest personalities on the Epson Tour. She has a smile that lights up any room she walks into and a laugh that would even make Scrooge grin.
But 2021 was far from the normal Quihuis that people are used to encountering, on and off the course. On it, she missed nine cuts in 11 starts which led to mental health struggles outside the ropes.
“It’s a sport that I love, and it felt like the dream was slipping away,” said Quihuis, holding back tears. “It was the lowest point in my life. There were times I wouldn’t get out of bed. It started when I missed cut after cut, not seeing the results that I wanted and grew and grew until I couldn’t function anymore.”
“Missing cuts one after the other was mentally draining, and I got to a point where my mentality wasn’t good. I just started thinking negative all the time and I could not see anything positive. I decided to stop mid-season and take a break. I took three months off and didn’t play, watch golf, or even talk about it.”
The University of Arizona alumna and Tucson native recently “got the golf itch,” but it wasn’t before a long road to recovery. Quihuis started journaling. She also found inspiration in U.S. Davis Cup captain Mardy Fish, who was diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder and shares his journey in the new Netflix documentary “Untold: Breaking Point.” The unconditional support from her family, friends and coaches is what ultimately brought the old Quihuis back. A horse named Strawberry on a ranch near her family home even provided some therapy.
“To hear another person’s story in sports was refreshing and there are ways to get through,” Quihuis said. “He conquered his fear but still battles it and to see him turn his life around shows why you should never give up and strive to get better not only for yourself, but people that love you. Watching his story helped my turnaround.
“The gym has also been my therapy. I go pretty much every day. I researched a lot about some positive things to take out of the adversity. Every day I was negative, and it just kept spiraling downhill. If you’re down that road, I would say don’t give up. To others struggling, find an outlet that works for you, and everything will turn out for the better especially with a positive support system.
“I’ve had a great support system between family and friends, my boyfriend, my coach and the positive has helped me overcome. There are still times where I think negative, but it’s not as bad as when it was every minute of every hour of every day.”
Quihuis returns to the Epson Tour this week as a tournament sponsor exemption for the Casino Del Sol Golf Classic. It will be her first event since the 2021 Twin Bridges Championship, but she’ll be playing for more than herself. She’ll be playing for her support system that helped her through the dark times and for her heritage as a Pascua Yaqui Native American.
Her goal is to return to the game she loves and perhaps enter the LPGA Qualifying Tournament this fall. Whatever is in store, the new golf journey for Quihuis begins this week at Sewailo Golf Club.
“I’m Hispanic-Pascua Yaqui and playing for the tribe is a huge honor because there aren’t a lot of role models” said Quihuis. “I help out with junior clinics here at Sewailo, try to inspire the kids. There’s more to life and golf provides the academic and athletic opportunities. Having a positive life is very beneficial and provides a purpose. If the next generation can find a purpose, good things will come to them.”