Patrick Fishburn: world class golfer

Patrick Fishburn smiles as he gets ready to drive a ball during Cougar Day on Oct. 16 at the Riverside Country Club in Provo. Fishburn helped BYU win two events and three top 4 finishes this fall. (Dani Jardine)

BYU golfer Patrick Fishburn is a 6-foot-4 senior who is making a name for himself on a national stage.

Originally from Ogden, Utah, Fishburn has been a member of the BYU men’s golf team since 2011. He started golfing when he was 7 years old, when his older sisters were offered full-ride scholarships to play for Weber State University’s golf team, despite being all-American basketball players, not golfers. 

They set an example for Fishburn, who excelled at both golf and basketball throughout his youth. He said he caught on to golf quickly and won tournaments from a fairly young age. He started getting attention from BYU’s program when he was just 13.

Despite the attention he received early in his career, Fishburn was never really hindered by the intense pressure that can come with being a promising young athlete.

“I never really put too much pressure on myself,” he said. “Playing multiple sports made it a little more fun, (and) I didn’t get burned out early.”

Initially, Fishburn thought he wanted to play college basketball, but after a foot injury his junior year of high school, he felt like he wasn’t quite the same player as he had been. He decided to focus on golf, moving forward and committing to play for BYU.

Several top programs at colleges including Texas, UCLA and Ohio State recruited him. Ultimately he figured staying closer to home in Utah would be the best fit for him.

“It was pretty tempting to try to go to one of those schools, but I really like the coaches, and being LDS, I like the atmosphere here,” Fishburn said.

Another benefit to playing for BYU, Fishburn said, was the ability to keep his spot on the team and still serve a full-time mission.

Although he said his time as a missionary in Nashville, Tennessee was well worth it, he added that not having a club in his hands for two years affected his game.

He described himself as “horrible” for the first 8 to 12 months after he returned from the mission field but said ultimately he was able to correct his game and has since excelled on the links.

His list of accomplishments over the last few years is extensive. Fishburn’s most notable accomplishment to date occurred last summer when he had a breakout performance at the Utah Open at the Riverside Country Club, an event that attracts professional golfers from all over the western United States.

He took first place, shooting 26-under-par, a tournament record by six shots. His closest opponent finished nine strokes behind him, and the other nine top 10 finishers were all professional golfers.

Such a dominant win has put Fishburn on the national map within golfing circles. The Scratch Players Group, an organization that tracks and ranks the world’s top golfers, ranked him the 32nd best amateur golfer in the world.

Fishburn is modest when discussing his success, but isn’t shy about making clear his goals for the future. Since he was a kid, he has had a goal of turning pro by becoming a member of the PGA tour.

The work involved in becoming a professional will be an extension of everything he has already accomplished. The PGA Tour has become increasingly competitive over the last several years, with more and more athletes excelling at golf. He will have to go through a potentially years-long process qualifying through multiple stages to reach his goal, but that doesn’t faze him.

From the athletic examples of his older siblings to the low-pressure approach his parents took in encouraging him, Fishburn gives a lot of credit for his success to his family, who he said has always been supportive. 

A lifetime of preparation has brought Fishburn to the point in his career where becoming a professional is well within reach, according to his father, Steve Fishburn.

“When it comes to athletics, he has an extraordinary work ethic,” Steve said. “Even at a young age, he was committed to practicing and playing and working on his game every spare moment he had.”

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