Lee Williams sinks career-long putt to make it back on the tour

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By Ed Bailey

If you looked on Lee Williams’ official PGA Tour profile, you’d see that his motto is, “It doesn’t matter where you’ve been but where you’re going.”

Williams embodied that motto to the fullest, as he was able to pull himself up from what he considered the “the worst year I’ve ever had of playing golf” to regain a spot on the PGA Tour.

Williams was unable to hide his joy after his perseverance landed him back amongst the big boys of golf.
“I’m super excited,” he said. “This was not the year that I wanted to have, and now I have the opportunity to go out and do better.”

A native of Alexander City, Williams is one of the more accomplished individuals to ever line up a putt.
He was a three-time All-American and a two-time Academic All-American at Auburn University. He’s also competed in world competitions and has held a place on the world amateur team.

However, he said that nothing compared to the pressure he felt in trying to remain on tour.
“Anytime you lose your job, so to speak, it’s really stressful,” Williams said. “You have to work your way back up, and with the pressure and high expectations, it makes it very difficult.”

But Williams said he learned from his mistakes and stayed true to himself. Williams added that if not for a wiser and more comfortable point of view, he wouldn’t be able to remain strong in the face of adversity.

“I’ve been doing it long enough to understand that this is a marathon, not a sprint,” Williams said. “I didn’t have the best start to the year, but these last several years of playing golf made it peaceful for me. I couldn’t hit the panic button because that’s not a good recipe for success. I was a lot calmer than I would have been if I were younger or newer at this.”

Williams said it also helped that he went back to the basics.

“I had to get back to what got me here,” he said. “I went back to work with my old teacher Scott Hamilton, and I went back to doing the things that made me successful in the first place.”
Williams’ quest to regaining his PGA Tour card came down to the wire. He didn’t earn the card until he sank a 50-foot putt on the final hole of a four-tournament playoff.

“To come back in those last four events and be able to turn this all around made the year a success,” Williams said. “It’s as big of an accomplishment I’ve had so far, given the year I had. It’s one of the biggest accomplishments in my life, and I can definitely say that putt was the biggest putt I’ve ever made.”

Williams said he had to draw on his foundation, his own experience and what he learned on the local greens to power through the obstacle.

He added that the experience he gained at Willow Point was invaluable.

“I was really blessed to grow up and play at Willow Point,” Williams said. “Not a lot of kids get to play on a first-class facility like I did. Playing there helped me to prepare for the golf courses I’ve faced since then, and without that experience I wouldn’t have been able to achieve the dreams that I’ve achieved so far.”

In addition to feeling a sense of accomplishment, Williams said that the experience has given him a sense of clarity in regards to approaching future tournaments.

“I’ve learned that if you want to turn something bad into something good, you have to keep a clear, level head,” he said. “I have to stay calm and patient. But the biggest thing I’ve gained from all of this is that if it’s not broken, then don’t fix it. I kept trying to fix things that weren’t broken. From now on, I’m going to play my game and do what I do. If I do that, then things will take care of themselves.”

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