The Color Purple: Local favorite Peterson touts his schools

Gail Bennison Special to the Business Press

Professional golfer John Peterson will wear purple for the 67th Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth May 20-26. Purple honors both his high school and college. The Colonial invitation is a big deal to Peterson in a personal sense, he says, because he gets to play in front of family and friends. “You really want to play good for the people you love the most, and I’m looking forward to playing in front of everyone from my hometown,” he says. “Playing the Colonial will be special.” Paschal High School grad, Louisiana State University three-time All American (he won twice) and Texas Junior Golf Tour alumni, the 24-year-old Fort Worth native started putting the greens before he was potty-trained. He grew up playing the Colonial course with his grandfather and father. “All I ever wanted to do was play golf,” Peterson says. Dream realized: He turned professional in 2011. Peterson played in two Nationwide Tour events: The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational and the Children’s Hospital Classic. He also has played on the PGA Tour by way of sponsor’s exemptions. At 23, he qualified for the 2012 U.S. Open through sectional qualifying. In the third round, he was paired with his mentor and fellow LSU alum David Toms. Peterson finished the tournament tied for fourth, which earned him exemptions to the 2013 Masters Tournament and U.S. Open. Peterson was a sponsor’s exemption at the Travelers Championship the following week on the back of his performance at the U.S. Open. In 2013, Peterson became the first active Tour member to compete in the Masters. He earned conditional Tour status for this year based on his 2012 PGA Tour non-member earnings of $327,091. David Toms has served as a mentor to Peterson on and off the course. As a youngster, Peterson caddied for Toms at Colonial. Toms’ win at Colonial provides for something special, Peterson says. It was at the pairing at the U.S. Open last year that Peterson made a hole-in-one at the par 3 13th hole. Peterson has played practice rounds with Toms at the U.S. Open, the Masters and during some PGA Tour events. “Perhaps it will happen again next week,” Peterson says. Peterson, who now resides in Baton Rouge, was born April 18, 1989 to David and Jan Peterson. “I want to thank my parents for their support and for not pushing me,” Peterson says. John has two younger brothers, Joel and Joshua, and a younger sister, Elizabeth. Growing up, John played baseball and soccer. Peterson played at Paschal under the direction of head coach Trampas Wilson. He was named the Golf Super Team Boys Player of the Year by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram following an outstanding senior season. Peterson finished his high school career by leading his team to back-to-back state titles at the University Interscholastic League Class 5A state tournament in 2006 and 2007. He was the state runner-up as an individual during his senior season, posting rounds of 70 and 68 for the championship, and won individual district and regional championships in addition to his runner-up finish at the state tournament. One of the most decorated players in the history of the LSU men’s golf program, Peterson was crowned the 2011 NCAA Individual Champion and took home medalist honors at the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships. Peterson was one of only three LSU Tigers to win the NCAA individual title in program history, joining Fred Haas, Jr. (1937) and Earl Stewart (1941). His career scoring average ranks No. 2 among all LSU golfers since 1982. Peterson wrapped up his career with two tournament victories, as well as 12 top-five finishes, 19 top-10 finishes and 27 top-20 finishes in 49 appearances. “I’ve been working pretty hard the last five years on my game, ever since my sophomore year in college,” Peterson says. “I had a really good final three years at LSU, and that set me up for what I’m doing now.” Peterson’s best advice for an aspiring young pro? “Be careful what you wish for,” Peterson says laughing. “Seriously, you have to work very hard at it. Most people don’t understand how much it takes to do this. There’s a lot of planning, a lot of gym work, making sure your body is ready, and making sure you’re mentally ready. And when you refurbish, you have to come back and really work your tail off. You have to be ready to do everything to make yourself the best. That’s what I’d tell somebody who’s 18 and wants to be a pro. But it also is very rewarding,” he says. On being in the public eye? “Put your best foot forward,” Peterson says. “There are people looking up to you. I mess up a lot on the golf course, and I try not to let it show. It does show every now and then because it’s hard not to show your emotions. I sign autographs every chance I get, but I’m still at the point where not everybody knows who I am. People don’t ask me for autographs all the time. Maybe that’ll change in a few years.” Other young pros with area roots include Jordan Spieth, a 19-year-old with three top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, and Tour player Franklin Corpening. They have been selected by former Colonial champions for spots in this year’s Colonial invitational tournament. The Colonial tradition is for former champions to select as sponsor exemptions two promising pros who have never before been eligible for the event. The 28-year-old Corpening grew up at Colonial Country Club, attended Paschal High School and played at Texas Christian University from 2004-2008. Spieth has earned $662,398 in seven PGA Tour events this season, including a tie for second at the Puerto Rico Open.