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Ex-Arizona golfer Nate Lashley dominates Rocket Mortgage Classic for first PGA Tour victory

nate-lashley-rocket-mortgage-classic-pga-tour-detroit-2019-arizona-wildcats-plane-crash Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

After 15 years filled with tragedy and near-constant hurdles, Nate Lashley has finally broken through as a professional golfer.

The former Arizona standout blew away the field at the Rocket Mortgage Classic this weekend in Detroit, firing a final-round 70 on Sunday to finish at 25-under par and win by six shots. It was the first victory on the PGA Tour for the 36-year-old Lashley, who played for the Wildcats from 2002-05.

Lashley is the ninth different UA alum to win on the PGA Tour, but it’s fair to say that none had to navigate as treacherous a road as him to get to that point.

His win comes 15 years after his parents and girlfriend were killed in a plane crash on their way back from watching Lashley compete in the 2004 NCAA West Regional tournament. After turning pro in 2005 he spent more than a decade on lower-tier tours while selling real estate on the side, then in 2015 made the PGA’s Latin America tour.

He won three events on that tour in 2016, earning Player of the Year, and moved up to the Tour in 2017 before earning his PGA Tour card in 2018. A knee injury cut that first season short, but in 2019 he had a top-10 finish at the Puerto Rico Open and tied for 28th at the U.S. Open in June.

Lashley, who is from Nebraska and currently lives in Scottsdale, was the third alternate for the Rocket Mortgage Classic and didn’t learn he would compete in the tourney until Wednesday. But a day later he shot a 9-under 63 and followed that with a 67 on Friday and another 63 on Saturday for his first 54-hole lead on the PGA level.

With the victory, Lashley earns full exemption on the PGA Tour through the 2020-21 season and earns a spot into the next four major tournaments, including the British Open in July.

Finishing tied for third in Detroit was another member of the Arizona/PGA Tour champion club, Rory Sabbatini. Sabbatini has six PGA victories, but none since 2011.