'Surreal': Scottsdale resident, UA alum Nate Lashley overcomes tragedy to win PGA tournament

Lashley won the Rocket Mortgage Open last month
Posted at 1:45 PM, Jul 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-14 16:34:45-04

Nate Lashley punched his ticket to Northern Ireland to compete in next week's Open Championship following his first PGA Tour win in Detroit late last month.

The 36-year-old Scottsdale resident doesn’t remember much after sinking the final putt to seal his first PGA Tour win at the Rocket Mortgage Open.

“It was really a blur when I tapped in,” he said. “It was almost surreal."

Lashley led wire to wire to finish 25-under and twice posted scores of 63 during the tournament. The Nebraska-born golfer finally triumphed on the professional level after experiencing the unimaginable loss of losing his family at such a young age.

When Lashley was a junior at UA in 2004, his parents and girlfriend flew to Oregon to watch him play at NCAA Regionals. On their trip back to Nebraska, the three were killed in a plane crash.

For Lashley, golf was an escape -- and also a painful reminder as he dealt with the loss of his loved ones.

"Golf was kind of a way to get away from it a little bit and to not think about it as much," he said.

Lashley continued to play and persevered on the course physically and mentally through the minor leagues of golf to earn an opportunity on the PGA Tour.

"It would take a lot out of you when something bad would come along," he said. "It was hard to get over that so it just took a lot of time really to learn how to deal with it."

Now, Lashley is primed to continue his success on the tour, as his win earned him a spot at all of golf's major tournaments, including the Open Championship.

"I’ve never been over to Europe and I’m really looking forward to going over and getting to play a different style of golf," he said.

Lashley said that if his parents were here now, they’d tell him to continue on the path that he’s on.

"They’d just tell me to keep doing what I’m doing, don’t change, keep being the person I am, to keep working hard and to never give up," he said.

On top of all the big tournaments that Lashley gets to go to, he said he's excited to return to the Valley to play at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale in February.