The severe mood swings go hand in hand with the scoring fluctuations. Two years ago at the Honda Classic, Standly walked off the course, withdrawing in mid-round. This year he again withdrew from the Honda in mid-tournament, but because of an injured hand. Nicole wondered if he had hurt himself in anger. "I have to ask," she says. The answer was no; Standly said he had sprained something on a mishit. But he has been known to break clubs like kindling. "Actually, he's gotten a lot better," says Charlie Epps, Standly's swing coach. "He used to break them about every hole."
Frustration is a major by-product of ADD. Most people with the disorder who reach adulthood without ADD being diagnosed tend to experience fits of anger and bouts of depression because they have lived for so long with the mystery of their behavior. Standly's case is typical. Experts tell him he was born with the condition—he probably inherited it from his father, Billy, who owns a men's clothing store in Abilene, Texas—and may well have passed it on to his three-year-old daughter, Suzanne, and perhaps even his seven-year-old son, C.A.
As a fifth-grader in Abilene, Standly was briefly treated for hyperactivity, and Ritalin was prescribed on the advice of the family doctor. He had forgotten that episode until one evening when he and Nicole were watching the TV news magazine show 20/20, which included a segment on adults with ADD. In the midst of the program Mike and Nicole turned to each other. "Man, that looks awfully familiar," Standly said.
Near the end of the show, 20/20 gave out an 800 number. The next day Nicole called. She began buying books on the subject and contacting experts. Suddenly whole patterns of her husband's behavior became clear. Like the way Mike would start to take out the garbage and end up sorting through fishing equipment in the garage. Or the time Mike failed to give Nicole a Christmas present. When she asked him how he could have done such a thing, he said he wanted to buy her a gold watch, but when he got to the store he was overwhelmed by all the choices. "I couldn't pick one out," he said, so he left.
After seeing 20/20 Standly sought out Dr. Lynn Weiss, a Bastrop, Texas, psychotherapist, author and ADD expert. Weiss confirmed that Standly suffers from ADD. The diagnosis lessened the tension that had crept into the Standly marriage. "It was good for Nicole to know it wasn't me," Mike says. "Or, it was me, but a little something wasn't firing quite right."
Pirozzolo, who has worked with Evander Holyfield and NASA personnel, tested Standly's comprehension skills. He found that in certain spatial tasks—such as completing puzzles in a certain amount of time—Standly graded as high as some astronauts, but in tasks that involved listening to and carrying out orders, he had striking deficiencies. "He showed areas of brilliance in terms of figuring things out with pictures and motor response," Pirozzolo says. "In other areas he was brutally bad."
The more Standly learned about ADD, the more he was able to make sense of his past. He wasn't dumb by any stretch, but he never felt smart, either. He sweated out a C average at Abilene Cooper High, having trouble in odd areas, like shop. He couldn't concentrate long enough to build anything. In all of his classes, sitting was hard. Some of his teachers simply assumed that he didn't care. "People decided that about me pretty quick." he says. "It can hurl you pretty good."'
But in golf, curiously, Standly found something that held his attention. It was an outdoor, physical activity, so he wasn't cooped up, yet it had a structure. The shifting conditions and the varying pin placements forced him to concentrate. And he was relatively free of the expectations of others. It was like fishing, a solitary exercise with a comforting routine. "I was my own man," he says. "It wasn't real organized. I didn't have to answer to anybody. I was in control of my own destiny."
Standly was the most temperamental member of what might have been the best high school golf team ever. The Abilene Cooper squad included Bob Estes, now a Tour player; Kyle Coody, who is the son of Masters champion Charles Coody and plays professionally on the mini-tours; and Ron English and Cole Thompson, who were good enough to play collegiately at TCU and Stanford, respectively. They were coached by Estes's father, Tommy, and won three straight state championships, beating teams led by the likes of Jeff Maggert and Verplank.
When Bob Estes learned about Standly's ADD two years ago, he felt as if a puzzle had been solved. For years Estes did not get along with Standly. Estes was a hardworking, mannerly coach's kid who couldn't understand what he viewed as Standly's rudeness. Often when Estes tried to talk to Standly, Mike would gaze off in the distance, not listening. Sometimes if Standly got off to a bad start in a round, he would quit. That was a cardinal sin as far as Estes was concerned. "He had the reputation of being a hotheaded country club kid," Estes says. "He was impatient, and there was a lack of attention he'd show when you would try to talk to him. He had all this potential but wasn't taking advantage of it. It helps to know what was going on, to understand him better. You can forgive him for some things he did and said."