Junior diary: A U.S. Open dream dashed

Hello, everyone!

I hope everyone had a great week. I had a good week of practice in preparation for my U.S. Open sectional qualifier in St. Louis. I had to get used to the new conforming grooves in my wedges, so I spent a lot of time around the chipping green at my home club, Country Club of Indianapolis. It was really exciting knowing that I would be playing for a U.S. Open exemption. It seems like Pebble Beach has been in the back of my mind ever since I advanced from my local qualifier. But I tried to simply focus on my game and get prepared for the event.

I also had a fun week with my friends. In the summer months, it’s pretty rare to have an entire week without playing any tournament golf, so I tried to enjoy this time with friends and family. In fact, I was lucky enough to go to P.F. Changs with my friends, the Kellers. Thanks guys, the dinner was great!

Junior diary

Patrick Rodgers, 17, 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. 7 in the Golfweek Junior Rankings.

After a relaxing week of practice, I made the 4-hour drive to St. Louis with my dad. We took a look at the golf course June 5 and I walked the course, looked at the yardage book and charted the greens. It was really a good way to get comfortable before my practice round the next day. I made sure I knew what clubs to hit off the tees and tried to get dialed in on the speed of the greens, and after my practice round, I felt ready to play and was confident in all aspects of my game.

After the practice round, I tried to go back to the hotel and rest up for a long day on Monday. Luckily, the weather was perfect. It was overcast and 80 degrees with no wind, so the golf course was there for the taking and we weren’t too hot for the 36-hole day. I played average in the first round. I missed a lot of greens in poor spots but was able to save myself around the greens. I just couldn’t hit enough good iron shots to score, and it was frustrating because I was putting myself in great position off the tee. I made enough putts to get myself at even with one hole to play. On No. 18, I hit the green but had a tough 60-footer over a ridge that I three-putted, and that left a bad taste in my mouth after I had fought well the entire round. I shot 71 and was down by five (we were playing for one spot), but I knew if I could hit some good iron shots and limit my mistakes in the second round, I could contend.

I played much better in the second round and my irons got much sharper. I started with a bogey but bounced right back with birdies on three of my next four holes. I made a lot of putts, but my round was killed by two three-putts. That is very uncharacteristic of me, as I usually have great speed on the greens. I finished with a 66 in the second round and was pleased with the way I played, aside from the two three-putts. It wasn’t good enough, as Scott Langley played great and shot a pair of 66s on a very difficult golf course to earn the exemption.

Although I’m disappointed not to have won the event, I can take away a lot of positives from it as my game continues to improve. I am excited for the rest of the summer and our upcoming high school postseason.

I hope everyone has a great week, and I look forward to writing again.

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