Q&A: Patrick Fishburn
June 25, 2020
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Patrick Fishburn is a member of The Five on the 2019 Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
Usually, Patrick Fishburn has to adjust all his yardages down from the Utah altitude he’s used to playing at.
Not so this week.
Fishburn, a member of The Five on the 2019 Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada – and winner of the season-ending Freedom 55 Financial Championship – will be playing his first Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank as a full-fledged member of the Korn Ferry Tour.
The Ogden, Utah native spent a few minutes with PGA TOUR Digital to chat about his hometown, how the 6-foot-4 basketball star moved to golf, what it is about golfers from Utah, and what he learned about himself after giving up golf to serve a two-year church mission.
Tell me a little about Ogden, the town you’re from?
It’s a blue-collar town. It’s about a 20-minute drive from Snowbasin (Resort), where they had the Olympic downhill skiing (in 2002). It’s not in the mountains but it’s not far from the mountains. It’s a really cool spot. You’re in the valley but you’ve got mountain views. I live now about 15 minutes from where I grew up, in South Ogden.
Your wife, Madison, she works at the hospital in town?
She’s at a hospital called Mackay-Dee Hospital here in Ogden, about 10 minutes away form where we live. She’s been working there (during the pandemic). She’s been fortunate, though, she works in the partum department – with moms and babies. They’ve had just a couple of COVID-19 cases. They’ve used her in different areas too around the hospital – she’s had to float and do different roles because there has been such a need. But she’s hanging in there. She was working long hours but it was nice to be home and help out. Utah has been fortunate so far, so we’ll see.
Growing up, you played some special golf events with your dad. Is that where you learned the game?
I started playing money games with him and his friends when I was around 11 years old. We’d play ‘Wolf’ and other money games when I was that age, and that’s when I first started to feel a little bit of pressure – because I was playing for my allowance. It was good my dad did that. He made me feel the pressure, because he would never bail me out. He wouldn’t pay my entry fee for the game, or if I owed guys money he would never pay it. I had to find a way to it. I was playing for my own money. That was a good thing for me – it helped me deal with pressure.
Over the (COVID-19) break, I played with a bunch of guys, a bunch of friends like Taysom Hill, he plays quarterback for the (New Orleans) Saints and went to BYU. Ogden was a fun place to grow up and the members at the club have always been really good to me. They’ve always cheered me on. I’ve been playing with my dad and his friends and they’d let me into the game. It’s a fun deal.
Do you think you want to raise your own family in Ogden one day?
I think so! It’s a fun place to live. The winters are kind of tough for golf, but you can always drive down to southern Utah to play in the winter months. Both my wife and I’s families are here, and we love being with our siblings and parents and nieces and nephews now. If we can make it work, I’d like to stay in Ogden for sure.
You played basketball growing up. When did you make the switch to playing more golf?
I had a lot of success with high school basketball. I was first-team All-State point guard but I broke my foot junior year and that slowed me down a little bit. I couldn’t really jump and I lost a step. Before, I was considering doing both in college, but after that injury, although I still had success in my senior year playing basketball, I definitely wasn’t going to be going pro and I probably wouldn’t be able to play D-I basketball. That’s when I transitioned into golf. Golf, I’ve always had a better chance of going pro and making a career out of. I’ve always wanted to play professional sports, and golf was my best avenue to do that. It’s been really exciting the last couple years to get the career underway.
I definitely miss playing basketball. When I go back and play now, it’s half embarrassing because I know how I used to be able to play and I just can’t move that way! I’m kind of out of shape and I can’t really jump. I can still shoot it, but I can’t move like I used to (laughs) so I don’t play much anymore.
You ended up staying in Utah and going to BYU, but did you have other schools on your radar?
Both Oklahoma schools – Oklahoma and Oklahoma State – showed some interest. Vanderbilt showed some interest. Ohio State. Washington. But I knew I probably wasn’t going to go outside the state. I was a big fan of Coach Bruce Brockbank who is the head coach (at BYU). My good buddy Zac Blair – we went to high school together – was having a great time at BYU, so that helped make the decision. Our assistant coach is Johnny Miller’s kid – Todd Miller. We got to see Johnny a little bit. I knew all along I probably was going to BYU and I didn’t do any recruiting trips. I committed pretty early, when I could, and I definitely had a great experience there.
How was it growing up with Zac?
We played two years at Fremont (High School). We had an awesome golf team my freshman year; I think we had six guys play college golf and five played Division I. We won the state championship by, like, 25 shots (laughs). It was a fun year. We went undefeated that year. We won every single regional match and we won every single thing. If you shot outside the 60s, your score wasn’t counting, which is pretty good for high school golf.
What is it about golfers from Utah?
I don’t know! I just finished playing with Daniel and Preston Summerhays (Daniel’s nephew) and I’m not sure what it is. It’s cool for me, though, a guy trying to follow in their footsteps of Tony (Finau) and Danny and Mike (Weir) and Zac. They’re great players but they’re also really good guys for me to look up to, and I’ve been able to talk to them a lot about what to expect on TOUR and different things like that. They’ve always been ones to talk to me and share advice. We’re fortunate here in Utah to have guys go on and have success. Hopefully I can be the next.
Your connection to Tony Finau is well documented, being the first recipient of a $40,000 grant from his foundation last year. Do you guys still keep in touch?
For sure. We’ll send a message here and there, and I’ll see him a little bit when he’s in town. It’s been crazy as of late but he’ll send me a message after a good round and I’ll do the same. I started playing with Tony when I was about 12 years old, and ever since then I was blown away with his talents. He was the top dog in Utah. He was 16-17 when I was 12, and he was hitting it about 340 in the air, and being a 12-year-old, playing with Tony and Zac and Tony’s brother Gipper, they were pretty dominant in Utah so it helped me from a young age. So it helped me progress and get better.
What’s been the biggest thing you’ve learned so far on the Korn Ferry Tour?
Every step, the level of play gets a little better and the fields get a little deeper. On the Mackenzie Tour, it was amazing how deep the fields were last year and it’s the same this year on the Korn Ferry Tour. You have to, at least, get to 20-under to even have a chance to win. I missed the first two events but I got into Panama and played OK, but the week following up, I had a really good week (finished T4 at the Country Club de Bogota Championship) and I thought that would get me in the rest of the year. It’s definitely an adjustment. Every step you take, the guys get a little bit better, and I just need to keep on improving.
Is it going to be weird to not play the Utah Championship in front of your family?
I played in this tournament a couple of years ago and my family basically lives 15-20 minutes from the golf course. A lot of the friends I have are within 15 minutes and would come out and watch. This week it’ll really sink in that we’re not having fans out because no one will be out there. It’s kind of going to stink to be playing in my backyard and having no one out there.
When you went on your mission, what was it like coming back to play golf?
I left for two years but I went to a driving range and rented a 5-iron and a driver one time. I hit a small bucket of balls in two years, and I came back and it was just a nightmare. I played a year at BYU and then I left, then I came back right before school started and the first qualifying round we played, I shot a 91. It was basically a full year of trying to feel comfortable. It was a long process for sure. I was thinking, when I came back and was having a terrible time, that my coach was going to pull my scholarship. I had to figure out a new way to play the game.
Before my mission, I hit a big draw, but when I came back I lost it. Now I can’t hit a draw with a driver if I tried – I play a fade now. That’s what I had to go to in order to keep the ball in play. It was probably a good thing because it forced me to work hard and develop new shots. I worked hard to get my game back. Luckily I found my game, hopefully (laughs), and I finally recovered from the two-year mission. What I lost, as far as the golf goes, I gained some mental toughness and a different perspective on life. Overall it ended up working out.
What does a perfect day look like for you?
Probably start out with a gym session in the morning. I like to work out. So I’ll start there and, man, I just love playing in those game at my home club so we’ll get the guys together there to play. Basically it’s what I do every day. I’m pretty fortunate to do that. Then there’s a nice little Mexican restaurant (in Ogden) called Café Rio, so I’d definitely get a chicken burrito there and spend some time with my wife and family. I’m pretty simple.