by Carson Kent
Every player dreams of reaching the highest level of competition in the game, though the path to becoming a professional golfer is a road few travel. When Trevor Simsby, a 28-year-old former University of Washington player found himself in his first PGA Tour event at the World Golf Championships-Workday Championship in late February, he made his shot count.
Simsby’s journey to the pros is a unique one. A California native, he was drawn to the University of Washington after high school by former coach Matt Thurmond’s competitive spirit and stellar culture, as well as a scholarship offer that would scale with performance.
Simsby took the opportunity to improve his game, and by the end of his sophomore year was consistently qualifying for tournaments and travelling with the team.
Early on, Simsby became used to competing with high-caliber players. His teammates on the UW team included current PGA Tour player C.T. Pan, and former World No. 1 amateur Chris Williams.
A great start to his junior year placed the idea of playing professionally in his head, though it wasn’t until the summer between his junior and senior year that Simsby decided he would try his hand in the professional world.
His motivation to pursue golf came through unconventional means. Trevor took a summer job with a family business that saw him working as a door-to-door salesman. A difficult few months of getting doors slammed in his face was more than enough to cement his desire to play professional golf, and that is exactly what he did.
After graduation from the UW, Simsby enjoyed early success in his professional career, qualifying for the developmental Web.com Tour (now the Korn Ferry Tour) but soon found himself in a difficult position. Scattered success and inconsistent play supplanted hope with doubt. In 2018, he played on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica, but his game struggled.
“I just kind of lost my way for a few years there.” Simsby said, “I really struggled with the game and the mindset.”
After his stint in Latin America, Simsby had a difficult conversation with himself and his family about the feasibility of his career as a professional golfer. For many, the story would end there, but Simsby decided he would take one last shot at it.
A year earlier, in 2017, Simsby had attended the Major Series of Putting in Las Vegas, where he met a putter distributor based out of Asia. They had briefly discussed Simsby playing on the Asian Tour and exchanged information. This connection would prove to be the catalyst for Simsby to make one final move in 2018. He reached out to the distributor, reintroduced himself, and relocated to Singapore to compete in the Asian Tour.
After a respectable finish in the Asian Tour qualifying school, Simsby earned his card, and his passion for the game was reignited. He qualified for the Bandar Malaysian Open in early 2020, where he played a fantastic tournament and won in a playoff. But shortly after his win, COVID-19 shut down the Asian Tour for the year.
“We didn’t really know what was going on last year. I thought we were still going to go back eventually,” Simsby said. “Come September, I [realized I] probably wasn’t going back overseas.”
It became an unexpectedly quiet year, as he was unable to play many events, though he welcomed the break.
“Looking back, I don’t think it was a bad thing.” Simsby said, “It’s been a grind the past five years trying to find places to play as a professional.”
So, how did Simsby secure a spot in the WGC-Workday Championship? The Asian Tour was only four tournaments into the 2020 season when golf was shut down. The Workday Championship, with its $10.5 million purse, takes the top two from the previous year’s money list on the Asian Tour.
Simsby, with his win at the Malaysian Open, was No. 2. Welcome to the big time.
He was confirmed for the event just two weeks before the WGC-Workday Championship. Suddenly, he found himself in his first PGA Tour event in a field with 47 of the top 50 golfers in the world. His years of dedication to the game, belief in himself, and hard-work had paid off. All he had to do now was perform.
“It was very business-like out there.” Simsby said, “I just got in my own little world when I was there and tried to focus on what I was doing.”
Statistically, Simsby led the entire field in strokes gained off the tee. He aced the sixth hole in the third round. He finished 37th in the field of 50. In his very first PGA Tour event, Simsby held his own.
His finish at the WGC propelled him to qualify for a European Tour event in May and the Colorado Open in July. He will try to qualify for the U.S. Open.
“I can keep up with the best guys in the world from tee to green; I really just need to hone in my short game,” Simsby said of his performance at the WGC. “The exciting thing for me is that my overall game is definitely good enough to compete with the top players in the world. My takeaway is a lot of confidence in that.”
Simsby’s journey to the pros is a testament to the former Husky’s perseverance through adversity. All signs point towards his performance at the WGC being only the beginning of a bright career for the young Trevor Simsby.
Carson Kent is a writer based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as a staff writer at the Baylor Line Foundation covering sports on Baylor University’s campus.