Rodgers wins at Southern Highlands; UNLV holds on
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LAS VEGAS – Patrick Rodgers held off a late charge from Pac-12 rival Jonathan Garrick of UCLA and UNLV’s Kurt Kitayama to win his eighth collegiate title - and third of the 2013-14 season - at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters on Sunday.
Host UNLV (22-over 886) won the team title by two shots over Stanford and Oklahoma State. The Cowboys shot 1-under 287 in the final round at the demanding 7,374-yard Southern Highlands Golf Club to climb into contention.
Top-ranked Alabama and UCLA tied for fourth at 33-over 897.
Rodgers, No. 12 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, closed with 2-over 74 for the two-shot victory, and his second consecutive at Southern Highlands.
The Stanford junior bogeyed the 16th after deeming his ball unplayable, setting up plenty of excitement over the last two holes.
Stanford assistant coach Phillip Rowe was on hand to give Rodgers a yardage of 165 yards after he went back on line with the flagstick, which took him over water and next to the 17th green.
“I blocked it (off the tee), and it hit the cart path, caught a bad break and went way into the weeds,” Rodgers said. “From there, I just made sure I stayed calm and tried to find the best way to make a 5, and I was able to hit it onto the green and two-putt.”
His playing competitor Garrick held a one-shot lead heading into the demanding 17th, but found water off the tee.
The UCLA sophomore decided to play from the hazard instead of taking a drop. The lie was fine, but he overshot the green and needed four more strokes to hole out, for a triple bogey.
“I saw him (Garrick) hit, and I knew all I needed to do was make a 3 because it’s a very demanding hole there,” Rodgers said.
After the par at 17, Rodgers made a par on the 18th to win. With eight victories, he is three shy of Tiger Woods' school record.
“This is the biggest regular-season golf tournament of the year," said Rodgers, from Avon, Ind. "The best field, the best teams, on a championship golf course. I really felt like I had a lot to prove, and we (Stanford) had a lot to prove this week. I hope this makes us better down the road. I came here trying to prove that I was one of the best players in the country. It’s truly an honor to be a champion back-to-back. I take a lot of pride in winning this golf tournament.”
“Credit to him to defend on this golf course,” said Conrad Ray, Stanford's director of men’s golf. “I think he’s showing how mature his game is because he really didn’t have his best stuff this week. He continues to play solid and stick to his game plan, and it served him well this week.”
Garrick, Kitayama, New Mexico’s Gavin Green, Texas’ Toni Hakula, Oklahoma State’s Wyndham Clark and Oklahoma’s Michael Schoolcraft tied for second at 3-over 219.
For UNLV, the victory is the team’s second of the season and fifth at Southern Highlands in the past seven years. UNLV's Kitayama was joined in the top 10 by teammate Carl Jonson, who tied for eighth.
“This is a great start to the spring for us," UNLV head coach Dwaine Knight said. "We take a lot of pride in it. I was interested to see how this crew would handle it because they are so young. We hit it in some tough spots, but we fought through it, and that’s what it takes.”