Tired? Not Patrick Rodgers, who finished off a 23-hole day with five birdies in six holes at the Valero Texas Open
SAN ANTONIO — Patrick Rodgers has always put a premium on fitness; at the ripe age of 30, he’s got a slender physique that could be mistaken for that of a teenager.
In terms of career fitness, Rodgers’ chase for that elusive first PGA Tour victory has been more marathon than sprint. In 234 starts, the Stanford University product has pocketed more than $10 million in earnings but has failed to find his way into the winner’s circle.
During an awkward Friday at TPC San Antonio’s Oaks Course, one that had players making up for Thursday’s inclement weather, Rodgers’ fitness was again on display. Rather than wilting under the weight of additional holes, the ninth-year pro got stronger as the day progressed, posting five birdies in his final six holes as he pushed his way atop the field at the Valero Texas Open.
Rodgers fired a 67 in his second round and sits at 11 under, with Corey Conners three back and Michael Thompson four back as the weekend begins.
The closest he’s come to lifting a trophy on the Tour was losing in a playoff to Charles Howell III at the 2018 RSM Classic. That week, Rodgers shot 61-62 at Sea Island’s Seaside Course, the lowest 36-hole weekend score in Tour history. Also a member of the “Class of 2011” which included major winners Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, Rodgers equaled the record of Tiger Woods with 11 victories during his college career at Stanford.
So getting a victory at the Valero would be extra sweet, especially since a debut in the Masters would be part of the prize package.
Rodgers makes no bones about the fact that he’s as hungry as ever to get a victory.
“It’s something I’ve always dreamt of, it’s the reason why I’m out here,” Rodgers said. “I love this job because I love to compete and I do my best to win a golf tournament every time I tee it up. I’m excited for the chance. This is, like I said, why I play. It’s going to be a really fun next couple of days.”
Nothing about his recent form would have indicated he’d play like he did Friday. Rodgers has missed the cut in six of his last eight tournaments, has fallen to 143rd in the Official World Golf Ranking and his track record at the Valero has been abysmal. He failed to reach the weekend in each of his first three appearances and even when he finally did make the cut last year, he dropped hard with a 75 on Sunday.
“Thank you for the reminder,” he said, when being told he’d failed to break par in his first three years at TPC San Antonio. “It’s a very demanding golf course. I think experience definitely makes me more comfortable around here. It’s demanding mentally because you know that on both sides of every hole there’s some pretty thick forest and some places you don’t want to be. It’s just been helpful to focus on where I’m trying to hit it and manage the golf course well and I’ve done a great job of that for two days.”
The biggest difference this week is his iron play. Rodgers was No. 1 in strokes gained approach the green through his first two rounds, picking up seven strokes on the field in that category.
Despite his recent struggles, the former 2014 Haskins Award winner said he’s been working diligently on his routine in this area, making sure he’s committed to his decisions.
“That’s been a huge area of focus for me, it’s been what’s keeping me from playing better golf and yeah, I’m really proud that the work that I’ve been putting in week in and week out even when it wasn’t paying off on the golf course,” Rodgers said. “Now it’s starting to and I’m happy with the patience that I’ve showed to get here.”