Rodgers gets revenge in beating Dale at U.S. Am

Patrick Rodgers hits his tee shot at No. 12 during the Round of 64 at the 2013 U. S. Amateur at The Country Club.

Patrick Rodgers hits his tee shot at No. 12 during the Round of 64 at the 2013 U. S. Amateur at The Country Club.

BROOKLINE, Mass. – This time, Patrick Rodgers took a different route in his match against Sean Dale. And the view from being in front produced a far more pleasing result than what happened in Arkansas a few weeks ago.

Seizing momentum with birdies at the 448-yard, par-4 third and 494-yard, par-4 fifth, Rodgers got 3 up early, survived a midround rally by Dale, and regained momentum late to post a 3-and-2 win to advance to the second round of match play in the 113th U.S. Amateur at The Country Club.

Sure tasted better than the defeat Dale served up to him in the Round of 16 at the recent Western Amateur, eh?

Rodgers smiled, something he wasn’t doing much of the last few days, or since late Monday when he found out in the scoring tent that he and his two playing competitors, Ryan Riley and Jordan Reinertson, had been assessed one-stroke penalties for slow play.

Instead of 72, the Stanford sophomore was recorded as 73 at The Country Club, and it made for a lousy dinner and restless night.

“Definitely, that was a hard one to swallow," said Rodgers, of Avon, Ind. "That was the first time I’ve had any trouble with that (slow play) in my career."

It didn’t go down any easier Tuesday when Rodgers backed up that 73 with a 71 at Charles River CC, a score, by the way, that was attained only after making a 30-footer on the final hole. Finishing 36 holes at 4-over 144 and tied with 16 others for 50th, Rodgers wasn’t done. There was space for only 15 of them, so Rodgers had to come back for the logjam of a playoff, 17-for-15.

• • •

(Check out Wednesday's complete scores and Thursday's schedule here)

• • •

Assigned a spot in the second foursome, Rodgers played the par-4 14th not cautiously, but neither was he overly aggressive. “I knew par, obviously, would be a good score (at the 508-yard par 4), but when I got up to the green and chipped past the hole, I saw that there were two 7s (in the first group).”

Safely through the playoff, Rodgers had the benefit of a short walk to a home near the 15th hole where he’s staying with a host family. Getting some rest paid off, because Rodgers won three of the first five holes against Dale. It’s a good thing for Rodgers that he did because Dale, a recent North Florida graduate from Jacksonville, stormed back. Double bogeys by Rodgers at the seventh and ninth, then a birdie by Dale at the par-4 10th squared the match.

Maintaining composure, Rodgers won the 11th with a bogey and watched Dale make the mistakes. At the par-4 14th, Dale sprayed his ball wide right and under a tree. He took an unplayable, still had no shot, and wound up making a triple bogey. Then, at the par-4 15th, after Rodgers poured his tee shot into the fairway, Dale hit a tree with his drive and barely carried a massive mound 180 yards from the tee. He bogeyed that hole to go 3 down and then came one of the ugliest clinching holes you’ll ever see.

At the par-3 16th, Rodgers’ tee shot went skyward and came to rest as a fried egg in the bunker. He had no play other than to hack out, but he did so into tall rough atop the bunker, then his third shot was wedged to 15 feet past the hole. However, Dale could not take advantage, because his tee shot landed in high rough above another bunker, a spot from which all he could do was wedge it forward 4 or 5 feet. He putted that one 8 feet long and so it came to this: Rodgers had a putt to close out the match (he missed), then Dale had one to keep it going (he missed).

The 3-and-2 win, ugly as it may have ended, left a good taste in Rodgers’ mouth. Having already been named to the Walker Cup with four other colleagues, Rodgers was the only one of the five to survive the 36-hole stroke-play qualifying (Justin Thomas, Cory Whitsett, Max Homa and Michael Kim were dispatched). He knew that was hanging over his head, and then came the penalty, which ultimately forced him into a playoff.

“I’d like to think I’m not a slow player, but they make the policies and they have to enforce the rules,” said Rodgers, who will draw Englishman Greg Eason, a senior at Central Florida, in Thursday’s second round. “I was just happy to make it through in a playoff. Match play is a different animal.”

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