Rodgers leads Southern Highlands; UNLV on top
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LAS VEGAS – It’s been quite a week for Patrick Rodgers.
First, he announced that he would forgo his senior season at Stanford and turn pro after the NCAA Championships. Now, he leads the prestigious Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters by two shots and is looking to become the first back-to-back champion since 1990-91.
Rodgers shot 3-under 69 Saturday at Southern Highlands Golf Club after an opening 74.
In his first three holes in Friday’s first round, he was 5 over. But during his last 15 holes, he went 3 under. His good play continued on moving day by going out in 4 under.
“I’ve been able to putt really well,” Rodgers said. “The greens are absolutely perfect, some of the best greens I’ve ever putted on. If you get the ball started on line, they are going to go in.”
He struggled after the turn and bogeyed Nos. 11, 12 and 14. He birdied Nos. 15 and 16 before three-putting the par-3 17th. Rodgers made up for it with a birdie at the last hole, the 603-yard, par-5 18th.
“I made the turn and I hit a couple of loose shots and made a few mental mistakes, but I was proud of the way I hung in there and played coming in down the stretch,” he said.
Rodgers, No. 12 in the Golfweek rankings, really likes the Southern Highlands Golf Club course, which he called “extremely demanding.”
“It’s so extreme that it tests every part of your game,” said Rodgers, of Avon, Ind. “There are so many gut-check shots out here that it tests your game, and it demands serious play from serious players.”
Entering Sunday's final round, Stanford, No. 9 in the Golfweek rankings, is two shots back of host UNLV, which is ranked 37th.
The Rebels shot 15-over 303 on Day 2 but have four players – first-round co-leader Carl Jonson, Kurt Kitayama, Taylor Montgomery and Zane Thomas – tied for eighth at 148.
Stanford’s second-round 9-over 297 was the low team total Saturday.
Top-ranked Alabama and No. 20 UCLA are tied for third at 22-over 598. No. 3-ranked Oklahoma State rounds out the top 5 at 25 over.
“We have to finish, close out a round," Rodgers said. "In the end, we threw away some shots (today). 17 and 18 are really tough. We just have to buckle down.
“There will probably be some nervous moments out there tomorrow if we’re in it at the end, but I’m looking forward to it.”