Logic would inform you that Sunday on the RSM Basic – the final official PGA Tour occasion of 2022 – goes to be open enterprise. Though former Stanford star Patrick Rodgers and 35-year-old Ben Martin share the 54-hole 14-under lead at Sea Island Golf Membership, there are 16 (!) gamers inside three strokes of the lead. Higher but, come Sunday morning to St. Simons Island, 25 (!!) gamers will play 4 photographs or nearer to the lead. Secure to say, that is anybody’s event…or is it?
Historical past begs to vary. As they appear to carry off the hiding peloton, Rodgers and Martin can take consolation realizing that six of the final seven RSM Basic winners have held 54th or co-lead, relationship again to 2015. Coincidentally, 2015 was the 12 months Rodgers, now 30, was granted particular short-term PGA Tour membership.
Alongside Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, fellow members of the highschool class of 2011, Rodgers was the child to overlook when he left Stanford after his freshman 12 months in 2014. He left the Cardinal tied with Tiger Woods as an all-time program. wins the chief with 11, since equaled by Maverick McNealy. In 2014, he received six instances and received the Haskins Award, given to essentially the most excellent collegiate golfer, in addition to the Ben Hogan Award and the Jack Nicklaus Award. He was the No. 1 ranked beginner on the earth and was making ready for a profitable, trophy-filled profession on the PGA Tour.
Eight years later, Rodgers has certainly loved a profitable tour, racking up over $10 million in profession earnings. The mistaken facet? He’s considered one of 14 gamers who’ve reached this monetary milestone with no win. Rodgers practically discovered victory elusive at Sea Island in 2018, when he misplaced within the playoffs to Charles Howell III.
A constant performer on the highest degree, sure, however earlier than the beginning of this season, Rodgers and his coach Jeff Smith recognized just a few areas that have been stopping him from profitable with the identical consistency he loved in school (or profitable, interval). Final week in Houston, the place he completed T-16, Rodgers talked about making an attempt to enhance from tee to inexperienced, particularly within the method recreation.
“You see guys like JT [Justin Thomas] and Collin Morikawa and Jon Rahm, the way in which they hit their method photographs and the way in which they’re in a position to assault from the golf green, that is an enormous asset of their recreation,” he mentioned. “I really feel like if I can simply get slightly nearer to those guys, like I say, I ought to be capable of put collectively an ideal 12 months.”
As if his upbringing at Stanford hadn’t already given him away, it seems that Rodgers is a fast learner. After three rounds in Georgia, he is second within the pack in photographs gained/method. For a man who in recent times has constantly completed exterior the highest 160 on tour within the stat – excluding final season when he was a lowly 94th – sharpening his iron recreation as he has achieved to date this week will be the key to coming into the winner’s circle.
“I really feel extremely settled,” Rodgers mentioned after his third-round six-under-64. “Actually, I really feel a bit like a veteran right here at this stage. More often than not I play with guys who’re youthful than me and have extra expertise, so I will attempt to lean on there- on it tomorrow. I sit up for the chance.
Alongside Rodgers within the standings is Martin, who picked up a profession PGA Tour win that got here again in 2014 on the Shriners Kids’s Open. In 2015, he held a share of the lead on the 72nd tee at TPC Sawgrass in The Gamers, earlier than bogeying to fall wanting the playoffs, in the end received by Rickie Fowler.
Extra not too long ago, nevertheless, Martin has battled a lingering again harm, which plagued him in 2018 and 2019. He hasn’t completed within the FedEx Cup high 125 since 2017, and he admits he thought to hold up the sticks.
“Possibly even going by means of a part there, man, do I need to change my profession?” Martin mentioned after his third spherical 65 on the Seaside course. “I do not know if I ever severely considered it, but it surely was undoubtedly on my thoughts when your physique is not feeling good and you are not enjoying good golf and also you’re struggling to get pleasure from our time. right here.
“I feel one factor I’ve discovered coming again is that if I can get pleasure from it first, I feel good golf comes as a substitute of claiming you need to play effectively to have enjoyable right here. . …I feel I’ve all the time had a fairly good outlook, however as household is available in and youngsters and stuff like that, you type of understand that if I shoot 62 or 72 tomorrow, not a lot goes to vary in my life.
Talking of capturing 62 or 72 on Sunday, he may very effectively do both of these issues if his three scores within the Finals this season are any indication. On Sundays this fall marketing campaign, he scored 79 (Fortinet Championship), 66 (Shriners Kids’s Open) and 75 (Butterfield Bermuda Championship).
So it doesn’t matter what the historical past of the event says, given Martin’s volatility, Rodgers’ winless streak and the variety of gamers near the lead, the various chasers are effectively positioned to win.
Amongst these was Canadian Adam Svensson, who shot a 62 within the third spherical – the bottom spherical of the day – to maneuver in a single shot. Sahith Theegala can also be a part of the threesome that lingers one shot again. The previous Pepperdine star is in his second 12 months on tour after a stellar rookie season by which he recorded 5 top-10 finishes. A former Haskins Award winner like Rodgers, Theegala has already posted two top-six finishes in his second marketing campaign and is seeking to decide up his first win on Sunday.
On Saturday, nevertheless, regardless of capturing an Beneath-68 to get near one of many headers, the 24-year-old was visibly annoyed, even after hitting some seemingly respectable photographs. (He is coming to get you, Hideki Matsuyama.)
Requested after the spherical if the frustration stemmed from his need to take the win on Sunday, Theegala replied, “No, like I simply need to play actually unhealthy good golf. I am not referring to a victory or something. I simply need to take advantage of who I’m, as a result of I really feel like my recreation is in a very good place and [I’m] performs rather well.
The intrinsically pushed Californian will be part of fellow Pepperdine alum Andrew Putnam and St. Simons Island resident Brian Harman within the second-to-last group on Sunday. Harman is amongst seven gamers beneath 12, simply two photographs behind – a bunch that additionally consists of latest Worldwide Presidents Cup squad member Taylor Pendrith, 2016 Haskins Award winner Beau Hossler, fan favourite Harry Higgs and some Duke grads in Kevin Streelman and Alex Smally.
4 extra gamers will begin at 11 beneath, three strokes again, and 9 extra are inside hanging vary at 10 beneath, 4 again. In different phrases, the story of the 54-hole leaders who prevailed on the RSM Basic might be totally examined on Sunday, when the chasing subject appears to reunite with Rodgers and Martin.
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