Benched: PGA’s Nate Lashley on return to golf without fans and defending his title in Detroit

DETROIT – Nate Lashley won his first-ever PGA Tour event at the Rocket Mortgage Classic last year. He’s looking forward to defending his title in July, even if it’s without fans. So, what’s he been up to in quarantine? Turns out, watching bad TV like the rest of us.

“Along with everyone else in the United States, we watched Tiger King,” Lashley said. “There were a whole lot of people with personalities, it made for a great TV show. Who knows what’s going on there?”

There was no doubt who was king of the Detroit golf Club last year. Lashley led the Rocket Mortgage Classic wire-to-wire and finished with a six-stroke victory for his first our win. It was such a great story considering he was the last player in.

“I mean, it’s kind of a big blur,” Lashley said of the tournament. “I remember a lot of the shots. I remember being nervous. The first few days, I was happy just getting in. I was a first alternate until Wednesday. When I found out I was in, there was a lot of relief. I took advantage of it. All week, I hit the ball well, I had a lot of close wedges and made my putts.”

The next time he goes out to compete at Colonial next week and for three tournaments afterward including Detroit, there won’t be any fans. He said that will be very weird.

“We’re going to miss the fans, they’re what make it fun to come out,” he said. “Yelling comments at you, big roars when you’re in contention, they make it exciting, so it’s going to be different.”

Lashley said if that’s what gets him back to work, he’s all for it. He believes the PGA has put together a plan that includes extensive testing. He feels perfectly safe getting back to action.

He plans to play the first three tournaments on the revised PGA schedule, then come back to Detroit where it all started.

“I was looking forward to coming back and defending in Detroit where the fans were absolutely amazing,” Lashley said. “It’s disappointing there won’t be fans, but with everything going on, I’m happy to get back out and play some golf and hopefully people can enjoy it on TV.”

Lashley’s win last year secured his Tour card for two years and that included an invitation to the Master’s. Lashley said he’s disappointment he didn’t get to play it in April, but he’s thrilled it’s been rescheduled for November.

The PGA returns next weekend at Colonial.

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Jamie anchors sports coverage on Local 4 News Saturdays at 6 & 11 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m., in addition to hosting Sports Final Edition.