We’re often reminded how slim the margins are at the top of the professional golf period with so many good players on the PGA Tour, and even more on the Korn Ferry Tour ready to take their place. But usually those margins—and those job distinctions—play out through a couple strokes on a leader board. In the recent case of Patrick Rodgers, however, his fate was determined by a couple of seconds.
Through two rounds of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, Rodgers has put himself in great position to finally pick up his maiden PGA Tour title. But he wouldn’t even still have his PGA Tour card if not for an extremely close call at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship last month.
After finishing 128th on the FedEx Cup list to lose his PGA Tour status, Rodgers finished T-15 that week to lock up the 23rd of 25 PGA Tour cards available at the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. Clearly, every shot mattered that final round at Victoria National, but it turns out every second did as well for the 29-year-old Stanford product.
As Rodgers took the lead during Friday’s second round in Bermuda (he’ll enter the weekend one shot behind leader Taylor Pendrith), caddie Brian Nichol shared a story from that tense Sunday. With four holes to play, Rodgers nearly lost a tee shot, until it was found by playing partner Tyson Alexander a mere two seconds before the three-minute time limit was up. Here’s how Nichol, who was looping for the third golfer in that group, Kris Ventura, tells it:
Again, two seconds. TWO! That’s the difference between Rodgers remaining on the PGA Tour or heading to the developmental circuit. Incredible.
And no wonder he was still in such great spirits on Friday. Sure, shooting a 64 helps, but Rodgers sounds like a man who is playing with a bit of house money now.
“It’s been a heck of a summer. It’s the first time I had to grind to keep my card after just missing the Playoffs. That was a really just difficult emotional battle,” said Rodgers, a three-time PGA Tour runner-up. “I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders since coming back. I don’t feel like there’s much that can stress me out on a golf course at the minute and I’m just really grateful to have opportunities to play. So, yeah, I’m excited to be here. It’s our little slice of paradise here this week, so it’s easy to enjoy ourselves and I think that translates into some great golf.”
And in a game of inches—and yes, seconds—even just a slightly different mindset could translate into that long-awaited first win.