HUTCHINSON, Kan. – One of the best careers in Stanford history came to an abrupt end at the NCAA Championship.
Over the course of about 40 minutes Tuesday, Oklahoma State flipped a 3-1-1 deficit into a 3-1-1 lead in its semifinal match against the Cardinal. The Cowboys went on to win, 3 to 2, after Talor Gooch holed a 30-foot putt on the 21st hole to defeat Stanford freshman Maverick McNealy at Prairie Dunes.
Patrick Rodgers was on the 16th green when he heard the roar off in the distance. Suddenly, the result of his high-powered match against Jordan Niebrugge, a 2013 Walker Cup teammate and partner, didn’t matter.
“I felt like my match was the important and deciding one,” Rodgers said afterward. “It was a total sudden ending, to not even be able to finish my match.”
And so ended one of the best seasons, and careers, in school history. Rodgers announced earlier this year that he would forgo his final year of eligibility and turn pro after NCAAs, but he certainly made a lasting impact during his final season on The Farm.
Rodgers won six times – including five of his last seven starts – and was tied for the lead at this week’s NCAA Championship before a back-nine 39. He eventually finished 15th, four shots behind teammate Cameron Wilson.
Rodgers finished his career with 11 victories – the same number won by Tiger Woods, who accomplished the feat in two seasons.
Rodgers, 21, is one of the most pro-ready prospects in years – some insiders say he’s even more equipped for immediate success than Jordan Spieth – and will have a maximum of seven sponsor exemptions to gain his PGA Tour card for next season. It has already been announced that Rodgers will make his first PGA Tour start as a pro at the Travelers Championship, followed by the John Deere Classic, where he tied for 15th a year ago.
“I feel really ready,” he said. “I’m going to have to keep improving. It’s a challenge out there, and it’s difficult to make the next step and have immediate success – there are only a few who have done it. If I stay patient and stick to what got me here, I think I’ll be just fine.”