John Peterson is Set to Retire from Golf at the Age of 29
By Michael Shamburger
John Peterson’s PGA Tour career is over.
Peterson was a three-time All-American at LSU and won the 2011 NCAA Championship. He seemed poised to be one of the young guns on Tour, and after qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Open through sectionals and finishing tied for fourth, it seemed like there was no doubt of what was to come. However, for Peterson, who aced the par-3 13th during the third round of the tournament while playing alongside another former LSU Tiger, David Toms, the wins never came.
The injuries did, though.
Peterson competed in only three events during the wrap-around portion of the 2015-2016 season, missing the cut in two of them and finishing dead last at the CIMB Classic where he pulled his famous Happy Gilmore drive.
He returned to the Tour for the 2016-2017 season. He made the cut in seven of the 15 events he entered and finished as high as T12, but he didn’t earn many FedExCup points and his status entering the 2018 season was in jeopardy.
Peterson told SI in June, that he hasn’t enjoyed professional golf.
"“I just haven’t liked professional golf,” Peterson says. “I never played golf as a kid to be a pro golfer,” Peterson says. “I played it because it was something my friends and I could do together, and I wanted to beat everybody. It wasn’t ever about money. “When I turned pro, all the sudden everything changed. It’s just you. You and your caddy and nobody else pulling for you. Matter of fact, everybody is pulling against you. You say good luck on the first hole but you don’t mean it.”"
While the PGA Tour appears to be glamorous for most, others know that there are plenty of long and lonely days and nights away from family and friends. This is especially difficult for those who are chasing Tour status and haven’t won.
There’s also the fact that the now 29-year-old Peterson and his wife Amanda, welcomed a son into the world in October of 2017 and quickly realized that his life as a golfer on the road just got even tougher.
"SI: “I hate it,” says Peterson, who is not one for verbose descriptions. It’s straight to the point with this straight-shooting Texan. “My wife will tell you I’m the most miserable person to be around when we have to go to the airport. I don’t want to be gone 35 weeks a year and not see him grow up.” "
Fast forward to last week at the Greenbrier Classic. Peterson needed to earn 55.33 points for conditional PGA Tour status or he would walk away from the game.
"Via Golf Digest: “I’m kind of freewheeling it at this point,” Peterson said in Charlotte at the Wells Fargo Championship. “I know a little bit has been said about me retiring if I don’t make the necessary money for my medical starts, and all that’s true. If I don’t make it, I’m not playing golf anymore.” "
With his medical exemption up, Peterson needed to finish T12 or better. He knew where he stood entering the tournament and appeared to be ready for whatever the outcome was.
Peterson barely made the cut at three-under.
He then fired off a two-under 68 on Saturday and a four-under 66 on Sunday to finish a respectable tied for 13th. That finish earned him $121,362 and 52.12 FedExCup points. However, because his exemption extended back to 2015, he was playing based off that year’s points allotment, which both helped him in that he earned a few more points and hurt in that it wasn’t quite enough. He earned 54.75 points, which is a mere 0.58 points short of extending his career via conditional status.
After the tournament, Peterson shared the following Tweet:
Peterson, who clearly has the talent to play on the PGA Tour, could try to earn his status in the Web.com Finals, but it doesn’t seem like he cares to do that. He seems ready for the next part of his life, which doesn’t sound all that bad.
His father-in-law has offered him a job in the Dallas/Fort-Worth area running business development that would require he be on the course around clients who could possibly invest.
"SI: “That’s probably more my speed, to be honest,” he says. “Get out there, couple beers, play some golf with some guys who might wanna invest. At least I’d be here in town.” "
There’s also the fact that in his now 91 career starts, he’s earned more than $2.16 million.
If there is an error in Peterson’s points, maybe we’ll see him again, and if not, his career is a reminder that professional golf is a very tough and often lonely sport.