Fifteen years down the line but their memories have not faded out. Nate Lashley could not help himself thinking about his parents even on Saturday before he built a six-shot lead that reduced the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic to a formality. Lashley found his mind wandering to the painful memories of 15 years ago.
Lashley’s parents and his girlfriend had accompanied him when he was 21-years old by then at Oregon for an NCAA regional in 2004. After the final round, all three offered hugs before boarding a small plane piloted by Rod which took away their lives. He thought of them again after the third round, replying to a euphemism-laden question designed to tug at the strings of a life-altering tragedy without ripping the fabric
“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.”
Eight years after his parents’ death, Lashley got frustrated and gave up the game. He studied for his real-estate license and started flipping houses. But that only lasted a few months before he dusted off the clubs.
In 2015, the memories were still fresh. Lashley started again from the ground up on PGA Tour Latinoamerica. He spent two years circumnavigating the globe. The second half of his globetrotting adventure included three wins in three months, finally ensuring status back home.
Though he would not get these memories out of his mind on Sunday, Lashley steadied his nerves and polished off a resounding six-shot victory with a 2-under 70 in the final round. He snagged the 156th and final spot in the field after a late injury withdrawal, and he quickly got to work by shooting an opening 63 to take the lead.
The win means Lashley is fully exempted for the rest of the season, and the next two. Furthermore, it gets him into The Open next month and the Masters and PGA Championship next year. Monday’s qualifier in northern Detroit will prove to be the last he enters for quite some time.