Rodgers survives 'crazy' start to U.S. Amateur week
BROOKLINE, Mass.—Patrick Rodgers says he feels no added pressure despite the fact he's the only one of the five golfers already selected for the 2013 U.S. Walker Cup team to advance to match play this week at the 113th U.S. Amateur. Frankly, the 21-year-old Stanford junior is just happy he managed to get this far, having won his first-round match over Sean Dale, 3 and 2, Wednesday afternoon at The Country Club.
"It's been a crazy week, so far," said Rodgers.
Indeed, during the first round of stroke-play qualifying on Monday at The Country Club, Rodgers shot a 73 after his entire threesome was assessed a one-stroke penalty for slow play after missing their final timing check point on their last hole. It was the only one the threesome missed all day, but officials decided they were enough out of play to add the stroke.
Nevertheless, Rodgers shrugged off the incident and looked to have recovered just fine Tuesday morning as he played the companion course, Charles River CC. He was cruising through 15 holes when suddenly he made a triple-bogey 8 on the par-5 16th after losing his ball in a tree on one of his shots. With no true cutline having been established, given the entire wave of golfers who had to play in the afternoon, Rodgers stood at five over for the 34 holes and knew he would be close to what the eventual number might be. Impressively, he then rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to finish with a 71 and a four-over 144 total.
Sure enough, by day's end that stroke came in handy, as the cutline came in at four over, forcing a playoff of 17 golfers (including Rodgers) for the remaining 15 spots into the match play field set for Wednesday morning.
So Rodgers, who is staying with a host family that lives near The Country Club, walked over and warmed up prior to the 7 a.m. playoff beginning on the par-4 14th hole. Playing in the second foursome off the hole, he made a bogey 5, which safely let him advance (three players made triple-bogey 7s) and set up his a first-round tilt against Dale, winner last February of the Jones Cup and a second-team All-American during his senior season at North Florida.
Oh, and the same guy who knocked him out in the first round of match play at the Western Amateur a week and a half earlier, after Rodgers claimed medalist honors in stroke-play qualifying there.
Rodgers went back to the house before the 11:50 a.m. start time, and appeared refreshed as he took a quick 1 up lead on the first hole. He extended the lead to 3 up after five holes, although Dale got the match back to all square on the 10th. A bogey 5 on the par-4 11th gave Rodgers back the lead, and pars won the 14th and 15th holes to eventual secure him the win.
"If you're going to win this championship, you're going to face some adversity," Rodgers said. "But I've gotten this far and now it might as well be as if I was the medalist. We're all kind of in the same spot."
Still playing, that is, with five rounds to go and 280 other players jealously look on.