WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- The Greenbrier Classic has given a sponsor's exemption to the winner of the Fred Haskins Award, which goes to the nation's top college golfer, each of the last three years.
The last two winners, Alabama’s Justin Thomas and California’s Michael Kim, each made the cut at the Old White TPC. Patrick Rodgers, though, has put himself in position to do much more after shooting a 65 on Thursday that left him one stroke off the lead.
Rodgers, who recently completed his junior year at Stanford, winning five of his final seven events, turned pro at the Travelers Championship. He tied for 45th there and shared 55th last week at the Quicken Loans National.
On Thursday at the Old White TPC, Rodgers hit 11 of 14 fairways and 13 greens in regulation. Even though he used just 26 putts, he was headed to the practice green after his round.
"Being a new pro out here, you're always trying to figure out and establish your routines, and mine is just kind of cool down after the round and work on the things I felt like I can improve and hopefully be ready for tomorrow," Rodgers said.
Rodgers started on the back nine Thursday and made the turn 1 under. He took full advantage on the front nine, though, holing a wedge from 118 yards for an eagle at No. 1, then adding birdies at Nos. 7 and 9 to shoot 30.
"I just felt like I managed it really well," Rodgers said. "It's just one of those weeks so far where I didn't feel like I had my A game and you're trying to piece it together on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and didn't get off to the greatest start ball striking wise.
"But I really hung in there and kind of managed it and placed the ball where I needed to and was able to get on a good run there on the (second) nine."
Rodgers has four more sponsor's exemptions lined up through the Wyndham Championship as he tries to squirrel away enough points to finish in the top 125 in the FedExCup as a non-member and earn his 2014-15 PGA TOUR card. He currently has 35 points.
The player who finished No. 125 in FedExCup points last year collected 346 points. A finish between 126-150 would give Rodgers conditional status on the PGA TOUR, as well as a full Web.com Tour card. Should he finish between 151-200, Rodgers would have conditional status on the Web.com Tour.
A good fiinish this week could go a long way toward helping Rodgers realize his TOUR goal. He could also play his way into The Open Championship if he's one of the top four finishers not otherwise exempt among the top 12 on Sunday.
"I feel like I'm continuing to get settled in here the last three weeks and I'm continuing to learn and improve and hopefully just build on today and continue to get better as the week goes on," Rodgers said.