Professional golf is sports’ ultimate meritocracy. There is no coach or general manager to tell you that you are either no longer with the team or are not going to be given a roster spot, regardless of how well you may have played. Politics do not enter into the equation. If you’re good enough, you get to play, simple as that.

Nate Lashley, who won the Rocket Mortgage Classic on the final day of June, embodies what professional golf’s opportunities are all about. He was a promising collegiate golfer at the University of Arizona, competing in the 2004 NCAA regional with his parents and girlfriend in the gallery. On the way home by plane, his parents and girlfriend died when the plane crashed. The tragedy affects him to this day. After graduation, he tried his hand on golf’s mini-tours before giving up to sell real estate. Giving professional golf another go a few years ago, he rose through the ranks, played well enough on the Korn Ferry Tour to get his PGA Tour card, and is currently in his second season on the main stage. Lashley’s story of perseverance has resonated within the golf community, and although a late bloomer at age 36, seasoned observers believe this will not be his only victory.

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