Lashley Wins Inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic
As a new tournament, the Rocket Mortgage Classic needed a story — and it got one: Journeyman golfer Nate Lashley, who got into the field as a last minute alternate, led wire-to-wire while going 25 under.
That would be enough for most, but this is also the 36-year-old Lashley’s first PGA TOUR victory.
And then there’s the tragedy: in 2004, Lashley’s mother, father and girlfriend were killed in a plane accident while flying home from watching him play in a golf tournament for the University of Arizona.
The tragedy is understandably never far from his mind.
There was a couple times out there late in the round where it’s — it happens all the time. I think about my parents all the time. And thinking about them today, I was getting a little emotional even walking up 18 even before I hit my second shot thinking about my parents, because without them I wouldn’t be sitting here right now.Nate Lashley, following his first PGA TOUR win.
Since his University of Arizona career, Lashley has kicked around in golf’s minor leagues, briefly took a break from the game and sold real estate. He also has contended with injuries that sidelined him in his rookie PGA TOUR season.
Lashley obviously has a lot of grit, and that makes him a perfect winner for the city of Detroit and southeastern Michigan, which likes to pride itself on its toughness. Lashley is a comeback story in a city that is in the middle of its own comeback story.
Detroit’s first PGA TOUR tournament also was good for a couple of Michigan natives: Brian Stuard and Joey Garber.
Stuard, who has a PGA Tour victory (2016 Zurich Classic), finished in a T5 at -17. He was appreciative of all the hometown support:
It’s hard to put into words. It has been pretty unbelievable. I’ve had so much great support this week, it’s been awesome to be able to play in front of everybody here in Michigan. To be able to play well on top of it means a lot.Brian Stuard on his t5 at the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic
Stuard made a run on the final day, making four birdies to get to seventeen under on the front nine. The back nine was less kind. A single birdie, match by a bogey kept him at -17 for the tournament.
Garber, a native of Petosky, finished t29 at -12. Garber graduated from Petosky high and spent a year playing golf at the University of Michigan. He later transferred to Georgia. Then it was on to the Web.Com Tour (now the Korn Ferry), and ultimately the PGA TOUR.
It’s been so cool for me to be home in Michigan and to have friends and family around. There’s been a lot of Go Joeys, so it’s been cool,Petosky native Joey Garber on playing in Detroit’s first ever PGA TOUR event.