DETROIT – I’ve heard the rumblings on social media, maybe you have heard them too.
Tweets such as: ‘This Rocket Mortgage classic is a 3rd-tier tournament.’ Or ‘who are these no-names on the leaderboard?’ Truthfully, I had to do some research myself before asking any questions in the press conference area, BUT, that doesn’t mean this tournament is 3rd-tier or isn’t worth watching! In case you missed it, these guys completely out-played Dustin Johnson, Gary Woodland and Bubba Watson to get to the top of this leaderboard.
There was a time when you didn’t know those guys either. It’s hard to believe now, but there was a time when we all didn’t know a guy by the name of Tiger Woods either.
I would argue, once you look up the names on the leaderboard, you might find some great backgrounds and stories.
Peter Malnati is tied for 5th. The 32-year-old loves the Kansas City Royals and he wears royal blue on Sundays because of it. He also blogs about his adventures in his golf life and has quite the following.
JT Poston is in 2nd place. He is called the “Postman” in some circles. On top of liking the Tar Heels and the Atlanta Braves, he likes to raise money for worthy causes with every birdie he makes.
Cameron Tringale sits in 3rd place. He’s been on tour for nine years and he’s still looking for his first win. He’s from California, but he’s wearing Greyson clothing, a brand founded by a metro Detroiter. Look for the 313 patch on his arm Sunday.
The leader, Nate Lashley, has one of the most compelling stories I’ve ever heard. In 2004, his parents, Rod and Char, and his girlfriend, Leslie Hofmeister, were flying back from Oregon after watching one of his NCAA tournaments. The plane crashed, and all three were killed. Understandably, Lashley had to walk away from golf. He got into real estate and almost didn’t look back. But, one day, he did. He fought to get himself on the tour at 35. Monday, he went to the qualifier for the Rocket Mortgage Classic and didn’t qualify. He almost didn’t golf in this tournament. BUT… as the third alternate, he got the call to play and accepted when some others dropped out.
Fast forward to Saturday.
Lashley has golfed two rounds of 63 and one round of 67 at Detroit Golf Club. He’s 23-under for the tournament and he has a six-stroke lead heading into Sunday. He could win this thing. You may have never heard his name, but he is certainly worthy of winning his first PGA tournament. I know I will be rooting for him Sunday afternoon.