Though Young, Rodgers Has a History at the John Deere Classic

When 19-year-old Stanford sophomore Patrick Rodgers tees it up with the PGA Tour pros on Thursday, it won't be his first competitive round at TPC Deere Run.

Just three years ago, the Avon, Indiana native tied for second in the American Junior Golf Association's John Deere Classic Junior Open.   Prior to that, when he was 13, he played a junior event at Deere Run, "shot a couple of 77s and finished 10th or something."

"Always had some good memories here and really enjoyed the golf course...Obviously, I played a little shorter tees back when I was 13, and so I was kind of looking back and saying, 'Whoa, there's a tee box back here.  But, yeah, like I said, just having played here and being from the Midwest, even though I go to Stanford, it's really a special event that hits close to home."

In 2007, he played an AJGA event at nearby Glynn's Creek golf course and came to the John Deere Classic as a spectator.  He and a buddy watched Jonathan Byrd overtake Tim Clark to win the tournament.  

"We came out, watched the final round and couldn't get enough of it," Rodgers recalled.  "So, we just kind of hung around and waited for everybody else to leave and walked the back nine and relived everything that we had just seen. We went to the [driving] range, and there was a bunch of fescue all around the range, so we thought it would be a cool thing to pick up all the golf balls from the range that had been left over. Really great experience, and I've been hoping to get into this event, so really excited to be here."

Rodgers said that '07 experience "continued that process of getting me hooked on the game."

Rodgers' affinity for the tournament prompted him to write John Deere Classic tournament director Clair Peterson and inquire about  a sponsor  exemption.  It was the only Tour event he wrote to, although he received an exemption from last month's Travelers tournament, too.  He's appreciative for how playing PGA Tour events could accelerate his development.

"Just to test my game at this level against the best players in the world and under the highest pressure is really valuable experience that I can take back to amateur golf," Rodgers said.  "...I'm just ready to play this week."

This week, instead of watching Byrd and Clark, Rodgers will be competing against them.

Rodgers has an outstanding amateur record.  He won the Western Junior in 2010; played on the 2011 U.S. Walker Cup team prior to his freshman year at Stanford; won the prestigious Porter Cup last summer, was named the Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year after finishing in the top 10 in 10 of 12 college events, including a couple of victories; was a finalist for the Ben Hogan Award this year; played on the U.S. Palmer Cup team this summer, and missed qualifying for the British Open by one stroke.  He currently is ranked No. 5 in the Scratch Players Amateur World Ranking.

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