Walker Cup: Rodgers offers experience for U.S.

USA's Patrick Rodgers putts on the practice green during the 2013 Walker Cup at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y.

On paper, the United States looked more dominant in 2011 than Great Britain and Ireland. They had the Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 players in the World Amateur Golf Rankings – and four more in the top 20.

Patrick Rodgers, then 18, was No. 2 in those rankings, and about to start his freshman year at Stanford. He was the second-youngest player on the team, Jordan Spieth being the youngest.

“That was something I had never experienced before,” Rodgers said. “Playing in that team format, playing in front of all those people and representing your country, is something I’ll never forget.”

He had one of the best years (2011) as a junior in amateur events. He placed in the top five at seven of eight tournaments leading up to his Walker Cup selection and was a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Amateur.

But Rodgers faltered a bit when it came to his first team-format, international event. He finished the two-day event with a 0-2-1 record.

The half point was earned by teaming up with Spieth in the Sunday morning foursomes. The youngsters fought back on the last few holes to get a half point over Tom Lewis and Michael Stewart.

Rodgers learned a lot about his game that week in Scotland and during the last two years leading up to this Walker Cup Match at the National Golf Links of America.

This time around, Rodgers will know how to handle himself in this competition.

The Stanford junior has had more experience with match-play events in team formats after playing in the last two Palmer Cups. He has a 6-2-1 record in that event.

As only one of two returners for the U.S. (Nathan Smith is playing on his third consecutive Walker Cup Team), he wants to step into more of a leadership role in the locker room and on the golf course.

“Nathan Smith and I, hopefully with our veteran leadership, we can lead the team to a victory,” Rodgers added. “What a great experience this is going to be with a great team we have assembled. I know from experience that it’s not very fun to lose. We are motivated to play well and get the cup back.”

A win on U.S. soil would be sweet redemption for this two-time Walker Cup player.

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