MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Every golfer at the FedEx St. Jude Invitational has a story to tell, but none have fought through tragedy like Nate Lashley.
Lashley is in contention this weekend, and it would have seemed impossible just a couple of months ago. The tragedy isn’t something that he wants to discuss, but it’s there with him.
“It was a tragedy. It took a lot of years to get over it mentally,” Lashley said. “It was just something that kinda lingered around all the time.”
Lashley was one of the best players in college golf 15 years ago when his parents and girlfriend flew to watch him play in the 2004 NCAA Regional.
After he hit the game-winning shot, they embraced and parted ways — and he never saw them again.
Lashley’s parents and girlfriend died in a tragic plane crash, and his golf game was never quite the same. After struggling as a pro, he hung up his clubs, selling real estate to pay the bills.
But eventually, the golf bug bit again. Lashley returned, rejuvenated, winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic last month, earning an automatic bid into this weekend’s first-ever FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
“It was huge,” he said. “You know, I was fighting and clawing to get into that top 125, and getting a win bumps you up so much, and gets you into tournaments like this … It was a career changing event.”
This weekend’s tournament in Memphis will be the biggest for Lashley since he turned the corner. Regardless of how he finishes, his lost loved ones will be close by.
“With my parents, I wouldn’t be here without them, so they’re always going to be linked to golf. They were the ones that got me into the sports, they were the ones that took me around when I was young to go and compete in tournaments. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.”
And if this weekend goes well, Lashley is hoping to take his play to an even higher level.
“My goal would be to get into that top 20, 30, in the world and be competing every week to win,” he said.