Avon’s Patrick Rodgers capped his summer in style two weeks ago, when the fourth-ranked amateur male golfer in the world participated in the United States’ trouncing of Great Britain and Ireland in the Walker Cup.
Rodgers and his teammates rolled to a 17-9 triumph at the National Golf Links of America in Southhampton, NY, the US’ largest margin of victory since 1997.
“It was definitely one of the best weeks of my life,” Rodgers said. “It was such an awesome team to be a part of. I had so many close friends on the team and had more after. I’m so proud to be a part of that group of guys, and we had so much fun, especially being able to have an overwhelming victory.”
Having played many of the country’s top courses, Rodgers said the coast-side venue, which hosted the inaugural Walker Cup in 1922, was among the best.
“It’s probably the most links-style golf course I know of in America, and the firm-and-fast conditions and wind made it play like a British course,” Rodgers said. “It looked great on TV, and was just as great to play. And with all the history, it was a special setting.”
Rodgers’ summer slate began after his spring season at Stanford, where he was a semifinalist for the Ben Hogan Award honoring the nation’s top collegiate golfer, but the Cardinal failed to make the NCAA national finals.
“It was very disappointing our team didn’t make it to nationals, but individually, I felt like I improved a lot during the spring and summer, developing more consistency and shots tee-to-green,” Rodgers said. “I gained some very valuable experience in elevating my game on a bigger stage.”
Rodgers’ summer included his third PGA Tour event, as he returned to Silvis, Ill. for the John Deere Classic. Rodgers missed the cut by three strokes last year in shooting 67-74, but finished 15th this time in firing 67-69-65-69.
“What a difference a year makes, just being a lot more experienced and comfortable at that level,” Rodgers said. “I had a lot of confidence that I was ready to compete at that level, and it was great to go out and validate how I felt about my game.”
Rodgers won the Western Amateur in Arkansas in August, played a Web.com Tour event in Evansville and missed out on making the US Open in final qualifying in Columbus, Ohio.
Rodgers had to decide whether to jump to the pro ranks or return to Stanford for his junior year. He chose college over cash.
“That decision is one that heading into school I didn’t really anticipate,” said Rodgers, whose 70.77 scoring average at Stanford is first there all-time, ahead of Tiger Woods’ 71.1. “There’s no denying that there’s a lot of opportunities out there in professional golf, so it’s only right that I take a look at those, but I thought it was best for my future career and game to come back, and I’m excited about the team and getting better.”
Rodgers met his Stanford teammates in Illinois for last weekend’s Illini Invite at Olympia Fields, where he placed an admittedly-disappointing 21st after winning the event the previous two years.
Rodgers moved into his dorm room on Monday knowing that he’ll face another decision down the line. Right now, he’s focused on getting his diploma.
“That’s what I came here with the intentions of,” Rodgers said. “I’m sure next summer will be a similar process of weighing out the pros and cons. I anticipate being here all four years, and we’ll see what happens.”