Lashley comes from nowhere at Rocket Mortgage Classic
Last alternate in the field cruises to first win at Detroit Golf Club
July 01, 2019
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Nate Lashley wins in wire-to-wire fashion at Rocket Mortgage
After failing to get through the Monday qualifier but cracking the field when David Berganio Jr. withdrew on Wednesday, Cinderella story Nate Lashley, 36, goes wire-to-wire to capture his first PGA TOUR title at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Welcome to the Monday Finish, where Lashley became the first alternate to win on TOUR since Vaughn Taylor at the 2016 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and moved from 132nd all the way to 40th in the FedExCup. He also won job security, at long last, after a hardscrabble and at times heart-wrenching early career.
1. Lashley is an overnight success – 15 years in the making.
Suffice it to say almost no one saw this coming, as just six people in the PGA TOUR’s fantasy golf game had Lashley in their lineups. He had just one top-10 finish in 32 previous TOUR starts, and was 132nd in the FedExCup and 353rd in the Official World Golf Ranking. (He climbed to 40th and 101st, respectively.) He didn’t know where he was playing week to week, having earned just 188 of the 209 points needed in eight starts of his minor medical extension.
Now he can say goodbye to all that uncertainty. He’s ditched the Monday qualifiers, and earned spots in the 2019 Open Championship, and 2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions, THE PLAYERS Championship, Masters Tournament and PGA Championship, among others. He did it with spectacular iron play, leaving himself with 10 feet or less on 22 of his 28 birdies.
“I’m just really grateful that I got into the tournament,” he said. “…It’s a dream come true.”
For more on Lashley’s life-changing win, click here.
2. This one packed an emotional punch.
A 2004 plane crash killed Lashley’s parents, Rod and Char, and his girlfriend, Leslie Hofmeister. They were in Rod’s four-seat, single-engine plane, headed home to Nebraska after watching Nate (University of Arizona) play in the NCAA West Regional in Oregon.
Soldiering on, Lashley turned pro but struggled, at one point taking a break from golf to pursue real estate. Although still coming to grips with the tragedy, he returned and began to claw his way back, winning on the Gateway, EGolf and Dakotas mini-tours before a banner, three-win season on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica in 2015. A victory two years later on the Korn Ferry Tour (Corales Puntacana Resort) made him a PGA TOUR rookie last season at 35.
No surprise that when he won in Detroit, he shared a tearful embrace with his sister, Brooke.
“I've been through a lot,” Lashley said. “It took a lot of years for me to get over my parents' death, for sure. It was mentally holding me back for a long time.”
3. Doc Redman won plenty with a solo second.
The 2017 U.S. Amateur champion from Clemson earned 300 non-member FedExCup points to secure special temporary membership on the PGA TOUR for the remainder of this season.
Redman can now accept unlimited sponsor exemptions for the rest of 2018-’19, and if he earns as many or more points as No. 125 in this year’s final FedExCup standings (he has 344; for reference, last season’s No. 125 had 377) he will secure full status on TOUR for next season.
“I knew what was at stake,” said Redman, who got into the Rocket Mortgage field through the Monday qualifier, “but I was trying not to think about it. I actually didn't even think about The Open Championship until someone said it to me after. But it's awesome, I can't wait.”
4. Victor Hovland is loving life as a pro.
The Oklahoma State product shot a final-round 64, one of the best rounds of the day, to finish T13 in just his second start as a professional. This, after making the cut on the number.
“I definitely heard a lot of people that wanted me to do well,” Hovland said of the energy at Detroit Golf Club, which he said reminded him of home for its tree-lined fairways and old-school feel. “That's really cool. I mean, I'm just a 21-year-old from Norway and you've got Americans cheering on me. It's still a little crazy for me to think about, but I really appreciate it.”
5. Patrick Reed is heading in the right direction.
His 2-under 70 – on a day when he admittedly didn’t have his A game or anything close – left him with a T5 finish, his best since a fourth at the 2018 U.S. Open.
He shot up 11 to 62nd in the FedExCup, and up two to 20th in U.S. Presidents Cup standings.
“It’s always on my mind,” Reed told the Golf Channel, when asked about making U.S. Captain Tiger Woods’ team that will take on the International side at Royal Melbourne, Dec. 12-15. “If I continue doing what I’m doing … then hopefully it all takes care of itself.”
1. Lashley was spot-on with his irons, with 22 of his 28 birdies coming from 10 feet or less. He was sixth in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green (+1.388), second in SG: Putting (+2.332), 13th in SG: Around-the-Green (+0.452), and T29 in SG: Off-the-Tee (+0.l66).
2. This marked the sixth wire-to-wire victory on TOUR (no ties) since 2017, and the first since Brooks Koepka at the PGA Championship at Bethpage. Lashley was 14 under par on the par 4s, making it the best par-4 performance by a winner on TOUR this season.
3. Lashley (2-under 70) joined an exclusive club. He became one of a select few to shoot 70 or higher on the way to a six-plus-stroke victory on TOUR. The last to do it was Tiger Woods at the 2013 World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational (70, seven-shot win), and most recent before that was Louis Oosthuizen at the 2010 Open Championship (71, seven-shot win).
4. Brian Stuard, a native of Jackson, Michigan, shot a 4-under 68 to finish T5, his second top-five finish this season. The other: T4 at the Valero Texas Open. He moved to 69th in the FedExCup.
5. Hovland (64, T13), Brandt Snedeker (67, T5), Joaquin Niemann (68, T5) and Joey Garber (69, T29) shot the day’s only bogey-free rounds. It was the second straight T5 finish for Niemann, 20, who has gone from 140th to 89th in the FedExCup in the last two weeks.
The Wyndham Rewards Top 10 is in its first season and adds another layer of excitement to the FedExCup Regular Season. The top 10 players at the end of the FedExCup Regular Season will earn bonus payouts from the Wyndham Rewards Top 10.
Matt Kuchar remains No. 1, and there were no changes among the rest of the all-important Top 10. Just four weeks and six tournaments remaining until the start of the Wyndham Championship, the last event of the FedExCup Regular Season.
Rank Rank last week Player What Top 10 gets (End of Regular Season) 1st 1st Matt Kuchar $2 million 2nd 3rd Brooks Koepka $1.5 million 3rd 2nd Rory McIlroy $1.2 million 4th 4th Xander Schauffele $1.1 million 5th 5th Gary Woodland $1 million 6th 7th Patrick Cantlay $850,000 7th 6th Dustin Johnson $700,000 8th 8th Paul Casey $600,000 9th 9th Justin Rose $550,000 10th 10th Rickie Fowler $500,000