Nate Lashley finally breaks out after playing golf due to tragedy

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SILVIS, Illinois – It is a short walk from T.P.C. Deere Run & # 39; s ninth green to the 10th tee, and Nate Lashley, who played in his third tournament in three weeks, dragged. Lashley paused to greet an eighty-year-old friend who was following his first round at the John Deere Classic last Thursday and said, "I should have taken this week off."

Lashley had played non-stop since the last week of June, when he first won the PGA Tour, wire-to-wire in Detroit, in his 33rd tour starting since professional in 2005.

"I had so much adrenaline after Detroit, I thought it could help me get through it," Lashley said laughingly at his logic. "But it ran out pretty quickly. I think I'm in my twenties and forget that I'm 36 years old. "

After many years, Lashley has raised his game with a winding road through the American town and PGA Tour Latinoamérica. In the fall of his career, he is preparing for his first British Open, starting at the Royal Portrush Golf on Thursday. Club in Northern Ireland, a major step forward from the Opens in Utah, Iowa, Wyoming and Colorado that once anchored his schedule.

"It's the beauty of golf," Lashley said. "You never know when you go ahead. "

Lashley, born in Nebraska, will take his place alongside headliners such as Tiger Woods, who can move with a win within two major titles of Jack Nicklaus & # 39; s record of 18 , and in their twenties such as Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka, who are already several big winners.

But perhaps no one this week has a more fascinating story than Lashley, who is at the British Open because he won in Detroit where he won the last he was a substitute, and who, it could be said, had long had to wait for a karmic reset.

Lashley is a solid ball-attacker and a gifted athlete who might have played Division I. College basketball, instead of golf, he had not stopped growing at 6-foot-1. His physical gifts have been on display for years, but until recently he had performance problems that stemmed from personal tragedy.

In 2004, Lashley & # 39; s parents, Rod and Char, and his 19-year-old girlfriend, Leslie Hofmeister, trained when Lashley's pilot, the pilot, crashed in Wyoming in bad weather. They were on their way home to Nebraska after seeing Lashley, then a junior in Arizona, to help the Wildcats qualify for the N.C.A.A. tournament at a region in Oregon.

Since then, golf in Lashley has evoked complicated, contradictory emotions. He knew that his parents would have wanted him to continue to pursue his dream of playing golf for a living, but the sport has understandably also caused him feelings of guilt and anger.

"It took me many years to overcome the death of my parents," Lashley said after his victory in Detroit. "It stopped me mentally for a long time."

In the dining room of the players in the clubhouse of T.P.C. Deere Run last week, Lashley & # 39; s eyes struck with tears when he shared his frequent thoughts about his parents.

"Frankly, it is just about everything that my parents were there when I won not to tell them over the years how I appreciated everything they did for me," Lashley said.

His older sister, Brooke, who played volleyball in high school and attended junior school for a year, tried to put himself in the place of Lashley. What if the last time she saw her parents alive was at one of her competitions?

"I think I would have been much guilty," she said in a telephone interview, "and I think Nate probably has it too, although he never told me that."

Ricky Romano, who has spent two seasons caddying for Lashley, said he never asked him about his parents' death. But last month, on the eve of Lashley & # 39; s Open Doors debut, on Pebble Beach, Romano told how golf brings out the worst side of Lashley.

Lashley grilled steaks for dinner and was so relaxed that Romano was taken

Romano said that he said to Lashley: "I don't know who this guy on the golf course is all the time panic. "

An equally-carded Lashley carded a first round, four under 67 on Pebble Beach.

"That was great for my self-confidence," said Lashley, who finished the day in 28th place. "It kind of made me feel like I belong here."

Lashley won his next start and was not delayed. The British Open will be its fifth tournament in six weeks. "If you play well, you want to play," said Lashley.

He had a more practical reason to participate in the John Deere Classic instead of taking the week off before he went abroad. ]

The tournament offered its players a non-stop charter flight to Northern Ireland with first-class seats at a low cost. That was enough to lure in Lashley, which is used to keeping its costs down. For this season, he had a career income of less than $ 300,000 in PGA Tour events and $ 542,000 on the feeder circuits of the tour.

It was fitting that Lashley's breakthrough victory in Detroit and the $ 1.3 million wallet came to a sponsored tournament by Rocket Mortgage: he has had his real estate license for more than a decade.

The income he earned from flipping homes and buying rental properties helped Lashley endure his lean years on the golf course. This also applies to cost-saving measures such as travel standby with a friend of a commercial pilot friend and with host families at tournaments.

Lashley took a four-month break from the game at the end of 2012 because he felt burned out, but stopping never stopped seriously in his mind.

"I earned money, could travel and play golf," he said. "I felt as long as I was improving and making money, there is no reason to quit."

Lashley & # 39; s perseverance was rewarded in 2016 when he won three times on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica circuit to advance to the Korn Ferry Tour, where he once won in 2017 on the way to securing his PGA Tour game privileges. His 2017-1918 beginner season was interrupted after 17 starts due to a meniscal tear in his knee that needed surgery.

In Detroit, Lashley led after every round. When he extended his lead from 54 holes to six strokes, his sister decided to fly in for the final day. She was sitting in the first row of the stands in the first hole, waiting for her brother to tick when she heard two fans talk about him. One said he had waited all day to see Nate Lashley because he was worth digging up and then explained to the other why. When he was done, he turned to Brooke Lashley and asked if she knew the story of the tournament leader.

Nobody knows better, which is why she can't wait to go to Northern Ireland with him in midweek. Nate was planning to make his first trip to Europe a few years ago with Brooke. But they canceled their plans after Brooke's boyfriend, whom they had agreed to meet in Switzerland, died in a freak drowning accident

After so much tragedy and grief, the family finally arrived in Europe. "I just have a lot of thoughts about my parents," said Nate Lashley. "How happy they would be."

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