How the 2019 Masters inspired retired pro John Peterson to return to pro golf (again)

April 25, 2019

John Peterson is returning to pro golf. Again.

The former NCAA champion announced on Wednesday on Matt Moscona’s ESPN 1045 show that he’s returning to the game he retired from just seven months ago.

“I have deleted all social media in last week or so, because of what might come of it,” Peterson said, “but I am returning to professional golf.”

And as odd as it sounds, Patrick Cantlay might be part of the reason Peterson is coming back.

“Sometimes you just got to take a step back to realize what you had,” said Peterson, now 30, who worked in real estate after retiring last year. “I was in an office for seven months, dark-to-dark basically. It was fine when I started. Paying the bills and everything was fine. But then the Masters came along and I’m watching this kid Patrick Cantlay, who in 2011 finished second to me in the National Championship when he was at UCLA, and he finished 9th in the Masters, and I beat him, and I beat him a lot. And I’m just like, man, that could be me. And then Tiger wins, and his story was just too inspiring honestly. I quit my job seriously the next day after the Masters.”

Peterson’s will he/won’t he retirement chatter played out all through 2018. He said during the beginning of the year he would retire if he failed to keep his Tour card on his major medical extension, and he came up just short in his last start at The Greenbrier. Most assumed retirement started then, but less than two weeks later to got a spot into the Barbasol Championship as an alternate, where he tied for 21st. He eventually got to the Tour Finals but missed the cut at the season-ending Tour Championship.

“It’s been a hell of a ride!!” he tweeted afterward, on Sept. 21, 2018. “Got a ton of people to thank. Too many to list. I will always cherish my time competing on the @PGATOUR. I can also say I birdied my first hole as a pro and now my last. Thanks for the memories!”

Peterson, who had two top 10s in 93 PGA Tour starts and earned $2,199,159 in his Tour career, had long aired his disinterest in pro golf’s grueling schedule.

“I like it a lot out here,” Peterson said at the Wells Fargo last year. “You know, I just kind of want to be a dad and like be around my kid and my family more often, even though, yeah, they’re here this week, but they can’t come every week. Thirty-five weeks on the road a year or so? It’s just not for me.”

John Peterson is returning to pro golf after a retirement that lasted less than one year.
USA Today

But Peterson’s return isn’t without a twist. It was just a month into his retirement last fall when he stoked the social media fire by tweeting at pro Chesson Hadley, who took to Twitter to say he hadn’t seen his family in three weeks and was pleading with United Airlines after a frustrating and lengthy travel day.

“Hey man, the money ain’t always worth it,” Peterson responded. “I saw my family today, and yesterday, and the day before that, and that, and that, and that, and that. #fam”

Hadley and fellow pro Kelly Kraft weren’t thrilled by Peterson’s reply.

On Wednesday, Peterson told ESPN 1045 that his son is now 18 months old and his newborn daughter is two weeks old.

“I spent two and a half, three years of my PGA Tour career not really giving it everything I had,” Peterson said. “With life and babies and everything that came with that, I wasn’t able to really concentrate 100 percent on golf, and now that we are done with our second kid, if I’m gonna do it, now is the time. So I made the decision about a week ago with my wife to quit my job and get back to pro golf full time. So it’s gonna be a long road back, but I’m ready for it and know I’m good enough to compete at the highest level.”

Peterson’s route back will start with Monday qualifiers. Earlier this week he just missed qualifying for a event.

“I’m taking a big risk,” Peterson said. “I don’t really have any place to play right now 100 percent, so I got to qualify and stuff. But I will get back, I know I will.”

You can listen to a portion of Peterson’s interview on ESPN 1045 below.