We are often reminded of how small the margins are at the top of professional golf time, with so many good players on the PGA Tour and even more on the Korn Ferry Tour ready to take their places. But normally these margins – and these job differences – are represented by a few lines on a ranking list. In the most recent case of Patrick Rodgers, however, his fate was determined in a matter of seconds.
With two rounds of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, Rodgers has placed himself in a great position to finally take his first PGA Tour title. But he wouldn’t even have his PGA Tour card if he hadn’t made an extremely tight call at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship last month.
After Rodgers ranked 128th on the FedEx Cup list to lose his PGA Tour status, Rodgers finished T-15 this week to ban the 23rd of 25 PGA Tour tickets that were were available at the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. Of course, every shot in the final round at Victoria National was important, but it turned out that every second shot was just as good for the 29-year-old Stanford product.
When Rodgers took the lead in the second round on Friday in Bermuda (he’ll get in a shot behind Leader Taylor Pendrith at the weekend), Caddy Brian Nichol told a story of that tense Sunday. With four holes to play, Rodgers almost lost a tee shot until he was found by playing partner Tyson Alexander just two seconds before the three-minute time limit expired. Here’s what Nichol recounts, looping for the third golfer in this group, Kris Ventura:
Another two seconds. TWO! That’s the difference between Rodgers staying on the PGA Tour and being on the development course. Incredible.
And no wonder he was still in such a good mood on Friday. Sure, shooting a 64 helps, but Rodgers sounds like a man who’s now playing with a little house money.
“It’s been a bloody summer. It’s the first time I’ve had to drag to keep my card after just missing the playoffs. That was just a really tough emotional battle,” said Rodgers, three-time PGA Tour runner-up . “Since my return I’ve felt a huge load off my shoulders. I don’t feel like I’m stressed out on a golf course right now and I’m really grateful that I have opportunities to play. So, yes, I’m happy to be here. It’s our little piece of paradise here this week, so it’s easy to enjoy yourself and I think that leads to great golf. “
And in a game of inches – and yes, seconds – even a slightly different mindset could lead to that long-awaited first victory.