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Golfer Nate Lashley's surprise win caps long road back to sport after parents' death

The 36-year-old, who won his first PGA tournament Sunday, had quit golf in the wake of a plane crash that killed his parents and girlfriend.
/ Source: TODAY

Nate Lashley took home his first PGA Tour victory after nabbing the last spot just before the tournament started. But that's only part of his incredible story.

While he was at the University of Arizona in 2004, Lashley’s parents and girlfriend died in a plane crash after watching him play in Oregon. The three were heading home to Nebraska in a plane piloted by Lashley’s father when the tragedy occurred.

Nate Lashley watches his shot off the fourth tee at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. The journeyman golfer was the last player to make the field at the tournament. Getty Images

“I’ve been through a lot, you know, it took a lot of years for me to get over my parents’ death, for sure,” Lashley said.

He also knows just how bittersweet this accomplishment is.

“My parents were such a big part of my golf and of my life that it was difficult to move forward for a long time,” he said. “I still miss them all the time. There’s nothing more than I wish that they could just come and watch.”

Lashley, who was ranked No. 353 in the world, pocketed $1.3 million Sunday after shooting 25 under par at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit. The win capped a long and emotional road back to the sport.

After turning pro in 2005, he wound up quitting golf and began selling real estate. He eventually returned to the game he loved, competing on smaller tours before earning his PGA card last year.

The 36-year-old was added to the Rocket Mortgage Classic as an alternate. He found out he’d made the field the day before the tournament started.

This time, his current girlfriend and his sister were there, cheering through his final round.

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“Having my friends and family here a lot of them flew in. And you know, can’t ask for more you know, I’m just like, I’m ready to celebrate with them,” he said.

With his win, Lashley won’t have to worry about getting back into real estate anytime soon.

Sunday’s win earned him a spot on the PGA Tour for the next two years, as well as a place in next year’s Masters Tournament.