With his ace on No. 16 at the Waste Management on Saturday, on one of the wildest stages in the game, Sam Ryder had a highlight that will be played over and over for many years to come.
Sam’s back story is one that I also tell over and over again to the high school players that I coach.
Ryder is what people would label a grinder. He found success a little later than other young golfers coming up. He has had an internal belief in his ability and has just continued to put his head down and put in the work.
Sam was not necessarily a standout player in high school, he was definitely good, but didn’t win a bunch of junior events, and wasn’t ranked super high in the rankings. He was offered one Division I scholarship, to Stetson University, 30 miles from his home in Longwood, Florida, and that was where he played his college golf.
From 2003 through 2008, I had a side job as a high school golf coach for Bishop Moore High School in Orlando, Florida. One of the kids to come up through the ranks during my tenure at Bishop Moore was a young man named Sam Ryder. Now, at 32 years of age, Sam is in his fifth season on the PGA Tour, originally qualifying by way of his second-place finish in the standings on the 2017 (then) Web.com Tour.
Ryder played on the PGA Tour Canada in 2014 and 2015. In 2015, he finished fourth in the PGA Tour Canada Order of Merit earning a place on the Web.com Tour for 2016.
In July 2017, Ryder had his first Web.com win, at the Pinnacle Bank Championship, finishing eight strokes ahead of the field. He finished second in the 2017 Web.com Tour regular season rankings to gain a place on the PGA Tour for 2018.
In his rookie campaign on the PGA Tour, Sam had a T2 finish at the John Deere, a fifth-place finish at the Houston Open and a T7 at the Barbasol Championship. He finished the year ranked 101 in the FedEx Cup Race.
In his sophomore season, despite battling an injury, Sam had a third at the Shriners, a T4 at the Safeway and a T18 at the John Deere. To date, Sam has had 12 top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour and has made over 4.2 million in earnings.
The story of Sam Ryder is one of inspiration that exemplifies where hard work can truly take you. I think that is noteworthy for any young golfer chasing the dream of playing on the PGA Tour…or any golfer for that matter, just looking to reach their true potential.