By any reasonable guess, 36-year-old professional golfer Nate Lashley would not have been expected to win the 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic.
But win he did, and big.
Ranked 353rd in the world, Lashley was a last-minute alternate to the PGA Tour after failing to qualify for a playoff on Monday. An observer who knew even a little about Lashley’s life and career wouldn’t have been surprised. Lashley never quit, no matter what trouble life threw his way.
In 2004, Lashley lost both his parents and his girlfriend in a plane crash near Gannett Peak in Wyoming, following a tournament. Lashley was 21 at the time, a student at the University of Arizona and player in that tournament. It was three days before the bodies of Rod Lashley, Charlene Lashley, and girlfriend Leslie Hofmeister were found.
Lashley continued to play golf. The game was both consolation and frustration for the young golfer. It allowed him to cope with the death of loved ones. But it also made for a hard road. After he turned pro in 2005, Lashley missed the cut in the 2006 Korn Ferry Tour. He played minor tours afterward, refusing to quit.
By 2012, however, Lashley had had enough. He left golf and tried flipping houses. But the urge to play golf returned to him after only six months.
And his luck changed.
The 2015 PGA Tour Latinoamerica saw Lashley make five top-10 finishes. In three months, he had three wins. A knee injury in 2018 later only briefly slowed Lashley. He soldiered on and made 11 of 15 cuts. The trend was now onward and upward. Determination had finally paid dividends. Momentum was on Lashley’s side.
And on Saturday, June 29, 2019, Nate Lashley walked out onto the brilliant green and stultifying summer heat to win the Rocket Mortgage Classic, by six shots at 25 under par.