Sophomore Patrick Rodgers notched his third victory of the season in dramatic fashion, leading the No. 13 Stanford men’s golf team to a fifth-place showing at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters in Las Vegas, Nev.
Rodgers, last year’s Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, started the tournament with seven birdies to post a strong 6-under 66 first round on Friday.
“The wind laid down a bit and the greens were receptive so the course offered a few early birdies,” Rodgers told GoStanford.com after the opening round. “I hit a lot of quality shots, controlled the ball well and converted the putts to get it going early,”
However, he was unable to maintain his momentum over the weekend, shooting 1-over on both Saturday and Sunday.
“The wind on the front nine made a few of the holes accessible,” Rodgers said of Sunday’s play. “I tried to fight hard on the back but it was playing tough. I just made a few bogeys with quality shots that ended up in the wrong spots.”
Rodgers was still in contention deep in to the final round, where he needed and made a birdie on the par-5 18th hole to move into a four-way tie for the lead at 4-under with Cal’s Michael Kim, New Mexico’s James Erkenbeck and Alabama’s Cory Whitsett.
“I was proud of Patrick Rodgers’ finish,” said Stanford head coach Conrad Ray. “He really hung in there with the final round after making a double bogey on the first hole.”
The four-man playoff started on the 18th hole, where Rodgers had recorded two pars and a birdie for the tournament. In the fairway after his first shot, the second year player from Avon, Indiana put his second shot to within 10 yards of the green. The third stroke left Rodgers with a 12-foot uphill birdie attempt.
After Whitsett missed his 15-foot birdie try, Rodgers coolly sank his putt to eliminate Whitsett and turn up the pressure on Erkenbeck and Kim. Both proceeded to miss their birdie attempts, leaving Rodgers alone atop the leaderboard, although all four golfers will be credited with a victory.
“My record is good in playoffs and for whatever reason I feel very comfortable in those situations,” Rodgers said. “I had just played 18 really well and I felt I could do it again.”
Cameron Wilson also continued his solid play by delivering a very consistent performance at Southern Highlands—the junior shot 71, 71 and 73 in three rounds.
Going into the final round, Wilson told GoStanford.com that said his plan “was to be very patient and accepting of all the breaks, good or bad,”
Wilson did just that, overcoming a double bogey on the par-4 first hole by birdieing four out of his last five holes to move into fifth place at 1-under-par. It was the junior’s second top-10 individual finish in as many tournaments. Stanford was the only team to have two golfers card top-five performances.
Despite Rodgers’ individual victory and Wilson’s strong finish, the Cardinal faltered as a team on Sunday, shooting a combined 12-over-par. Sitting at even-par after two rounds, the team fell from second to fifth in the team standings on the final day of the tournament.
Senior Andrew Yun had an inauspicious start to the final round, triple-bogeying the par-4 first hole, while freshman David Boote and senior Steven Kearney combined for 14 bogeys on the day. The top-ranked Cal Golden Bears won the team title with an 856, seven strokes clear of second-place Alabama and 20 ahead of Stanford.
Although a final round tumble down the leaderboard might leave a sour taste in their mouths, Ray was pleased that it defeated six teams ranked ahead of them. This includes No. 7 USC, which along with No. 2 UCLA and No. 1 Cal, will compete with the Card at the Pac-12 Championship Tournament from April 29-May 1 in Los Angeles.
“The conditions were very difficult and the competition stiff, so it’s great experience hopefully for what lies ahead and will give us a good measuring stick for what we need to work on,” Ray said. “I’m confident that the other guys will contribute as we move forward at Stanford in a couple weeks.”
Stanford next hits the course on March 28 in the U.S. Intercollegiate at the Stanford Golf Course, the only home tournament for the Cardinal this season.
“Hopefully we can ride some of the momentum of our first two days of competition and do some good performance at Stanford when we play at our course and defend our home turf here at the Stanford Intercollegiate in a couple weeks,” Ray said.
Contact Cameron Miller at cmiller6 ‘at’ stanford.edu.