By Jake Thompson
— The accolades and honors just keep coming for Stanford sophomore and former Avon golfer Patrick Rodgers.
The 6-foot-2, 165-pound Rodgers took the Pac-12 by storm last season and was named Freshman of the Year. Rodgers was also one of three finalists for the 2012 Ben Hogan Award and was in contention for that honor again this season.
The first-team PING All-American was also selected for his second Palmer Cup and Walker Cup squads this season.
“I think Patrick’s freshman campaign was great,” The Knowles Family Director of Men's Golf Conrad Ray said. “I think he’s continued to build upon that in the second year.”
Recently named to the 2012-13 All-Pac-12 team, Rodgers’ skills have landed him on the precipice of a professional golfing career.
“I think he’s one of those players that as a coach, you couldn’t ask for much more,” Ray said. “He’s dedicated to the craft and he practices really diligently and he just can’t get enough golf. He wants to eat, sleep, drink everything golf. That’s what makes him great.”
With almost a full second year of collegiate competition under his belt, Rodgers cites his consistency as what he’s most proud of accomplishing. That steadiness on the course has him in contention for the lowest scoring average through a season in the Cardinals’ record book.
It’s also what landed him on the Palmer and Walker Cup teams.
“All those things to represent your country mean so much,” Rodgers said. “To be considered for the Palmer Cup, it’s one of the 10 best players in the country and it’s a huge honor and a testament to playing great golf the entire year. To be able to do that two years in a row says a lot of how I’ve been playing and it’s a huge honor to go and represent the Stars and Stripes.”
The Palmer Cup is a Ryder Cup-style match between the top U.S. and European collegiate players. The Walker Cup is similar except the opposing players were selected from Great Britain and Ireland, not all of Europe, and it’s comprised of the top amateurs in the world.
The Palmer Cup is June 7-9 at Wilmington Country Club in Delaware and the Walker Cup is scheduled for Sept. 6-8 at the National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y.
Along with former Stanford players Phillip Rowe and Andrew Yun, Rodgers is just the third Cardinal that’s been selected for at least two Palmer Cup teams. Rodgers was the ninth Stanford player selected to play in a Walker Cup match.
What has made Rodgers so successful, Ray said, has been his ability to focus in on even the smallest of details and self correct his errors.
“His physical stuff has improved, but I think he continues to beat everyone with his mental approach and his way that he digests what he does well and what he doesn’t do well,” Ray said. “He definitely takes this idea of making his weaknesses as strengths to a new level as far as college golfers go.
“He’s definitely in the short couple of years here at Stanford established himself as one of the best players we’ve had over time and we look forward to that continuing.”
And that’s no small statement as the list of Stanford alum includes golfing greats Tiger Woods, Notah Begay, Tom Watson, and a slew of others that are or were on the PGA Tour.
“That’s pretty tall cotton,” Ray said. “That’s a good crop of players that are well respected in the game. Patrick does everything in his everyday life with what we’ve seen our highest performers do. Credit to him.”
As of this moment, Rodgers is the Stanford career low stroke average holder with a 70.68 achieved over 68 rounds.
Rodgers takes his preparation to an entirely different level with the use of statistics, something he has been doing in tournament play since before high school. By analyzing his every stroke from a situational standpoint, it gives Rodgers a way to track his progress in a very unique way.
“I keep my statistics over the course of the year and try to pinpoint areas where I’m losing shots and where I’m doing well, so it builds my confidence,” Rodgers said. “I try to keep growing as a player and I think that comes from constant re-evaluation. I feel like I do not have a true weakness in my game.”
Ray agrees with Rodgers’ assessment and sees that as the key to the sophomore’s success. The pair has been on the same page since hooking up last year according to Rodgers and that has helped his game tremendously, along with gained the respect of Ray.
“I think he does a really good job of learning from the golf he’s played,” Ray said. “I think a lot of players over time that I’ve coached and players that I’ve been around as a professional and that type of thing, it’s easy to play a round of golf and not get much from it.
“I think when Patrick competes he looks at that round as trying to win that round himself but also as an opportunity to improve and he digests every round he plays to the 11th degree.”