Junior diary: Talkin’ Junior PGA and U.S. Am
Last week was truly eventful.
The Junior PGA Championship was really a special event, especially for me as it was held in my home state of Indiana. It was a little different being so close to home for such a big event, but I think I could get used to it. It was nice to have a few more family and friends come watch me play.
Sycamore Hills was an awesome venue. The soft conditions were unfortunate because the field didn’t get a chance to see how tough the golf course can be. It played long, but it was easy to get to some of the tougher pin placements. The staff at the club did a great job to keep the golf course in beautiful shape despite having multiple inches of rain.
Some of my closest friends are through golf, so it was nice to spend a couple of weeks with Justin Thomas and Ollie Schniederjans from the Canon Cup through the Junior PGA.
Patrick Rodgers, 18, will file a diary each week this summer as he plays some of the premier junior events in the country.
Rodgers, a second-team AJGA All-American, is No. 5 in the Golfweek Junior Rankings. He has two top-10 finishes in 2010, including a second place at the Rolex Tournament of Champions.
There was a lot riding on this event, so I wanted to play well. I had struggled a little with my ball-striking throughout the summer, but I struck it well at Sycamore. I hit a lot of greens and gave myself many opportunities, but I just couldn’t make much. My stroke was solid, but I just couldn’t match the speed and the line. Often times, I missed my putts on the high side because I didn’t have the correct speed.
With the Junior Ryder Cup Team being picked, I really needed a good final round to finish in the top 2 and earn a spot on the team. I was in third place heading into the final round, five shots off the lead and two behind second. I needed to make some putts to give myself a chance. I got off to a lousy start and just didn’t capitalize on any opportunities. I finished fifth to cap off a frustrating week on the greens.
I wasn’t selected as a captain’s pick for the Junior Ryder Cup team, which has been my goal for a long time. I’m sure it was a tough process for the captain. Even though I’m disappointed, I realize that I could have played better and earned an automatic spot on the team. However, I couldn’t let that disappointment affect me for long, as I had my U.S. Amateur qualifier on Monday. It was at my home course, but the field was very strong with many players coming to Indianapolis after the Western Amateur.
It was a long grueling day of golf with only a few minutes in between rounds. I didn’t play great, but I didn’t make many mistakes and I was able to shoot 70-68 to win the event. It was nice to qualify for Chambers Bay after the disappointment of last week, but it is one of those tournaments where in order to play well, you have to expect to do it. However, I am thrilled to be going back to the U.S. Amateur after playing poorly last year. I feel as though my game is much better and I can compete with the best.
I’m getting ready to go back to school, and getting my game ready for the next couple of weeks. I look forward to writing again soon.