Game Changers

More on the Man Who Made The Ace on No 16: Sam Ryder’s Journey Exemplifies Hard Work

By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Published on

Sam Ryder of the United States reacts to his hole-in-one on the 16th hole during the third round of the WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on February 12, 2022 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

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) 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 Tour for 2016.
In July 2017, Ryder had his first win, at the Pinnacle Bank Championship, finishing eight strokes ahead of the field. He finished second in the 2017 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.
Brendon R. Elliott, PGA

Sorrento, FL

Brendon Elliott

Executive Director/Founder

Brendon Elliott is considered by his peers in the industry as one of the top youth golf coaches in the world. He is a multiple, local, state, regional, national and world award winning instructor with a focus on junior golfers ages 3-18. With numerous appearances on Golf Channel's Morning Drive, local TV, nationwide radio and countless publications, Elliott is one of the foremost experts in the youth golf arena. His Little Linksters 501c3 nonprofit is recognized as an example for introducing children as young as three to the game as well as how to help introduce youth with disabilities to our golf. Elliott has been recommended by industry titian's such as Nicklaus, Player, Floyd, Sorenstam, Speith and more. Among his numerous accolades, Elliott was named the PGA of America's 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development Award Winner in 2017.