MORE INTERVIEWS: John Deere Classic transcript archive
DOUG MILNE: We'd like to welcome Patrick Rodgers to the interview room here at the John Deere Classic. Thanks for joining us for a few minutes, sophomore at Stanford, and I guess the thing that really stands out, sponsor exemption here this week, but you've got just an incredible story about how you came to get that sponsor exemption. We've heard the talk about the very sentimental and convincing letter you wrote to Clair Peterson. If you could start off sharing some of the highlights of that letter and then transition into what it feels like to be here to compete in the tournament this week.
PATRICK RODGERS: Yeah, thank you. Obviously being from the Midwest and being from Indianapolis, the John Deere Classic has always been really special for me, a close tournament to home. I played a tournament here when I was 13, a Plantations junior golf tournament, shot a couple 77s and finished like 10th or something. But always had some good memories here and really enjoyed the golf course.
With the AJGA, they have their kind of connecting event, they also call it the John Deere maybe Junior Open or something like that, in the area, and kind of in accordance with that event, I came over with a buddy to watch the final round, I think it was when Jonathan Byrd won in '07, and we came out, watched the entire final round and couldn't get enough of it, so we just kind of hung around and waited for everybody to leave and walked the back nine and relived everything that we had just seen.
We went to the range, and there was a bunch of fescue all around the range, so we thought it would be a cool thing to pick up all the golf balls from the range that had been left over. Really great experience, and I've been hoping to get into this event, so really excited to be here.
Q. You were talking about the tournament. Was it played on this course??
PATRICK RODGERS: No, it was just-- the AJGA was somewhere in the area. I think it was Glynns Creek or something? Yeah, I played there a couple years, I think, and really enjoyed being here, and then I'd come over to the event and watch.
Q. The Plantation event was here??
PATRICK RODGERS: The Plantation event was here when I was-- I think I was 13.
Q. So being here when you were 13, and I don't know if you've been out today or not this week, I guess your thoughts on this course and being here for real and doing it for real??
PATRICK RODGERS: Yeah, I played yesterday, and it was kind of just weird being here. Obviously I played a little shorter tees back when I was 13, and so I was kind of looking back and saying, whoa, there is a tee box back here. But yeah, like I said, just having played here and being from the Midwest, even though I go to Stanford, it's a really special event and hits close to home. Just happy to be here and ready to play well.
Q. How important are those sponsor exemptions to young people, players like yourself, to get your feet wet??
PATRICK RODGERS: Yeah, for me I had had no PGA TOUR experience prior to this summer, and this is the only event that I had written a letter to, and I got an exemption into the Travelers, too, but just to gain this experience is so valuable. Just to test my game at this level against the best players in the world and under the highest pressure is really valuable experience that I can take back to amateur golf.
Q. Going back to that day when you were here in '07, what made you guys even think about doing something like that after the tournament was over and hanging around??
PATRICK RODGERS: Well, I mean, I've always been a big sports fan. I played every sport growing up, and it was kind of at that stage of my life where golf was kind of taking over and becoming the No.1 for me. So to see-- any time I could come to a PGA TOUR event and see how the best players did it, I was trying to learn a lot from them. To come out here and see what it was like, I remember it being a really exciting event, and so it just kind of was-- continued that process of getting me hooked on the game.
Q. Talk about your mentality now being-- you talked about getting the experience that you can take back to amateur golf. How does it affect your mind when you see all of the youngsters, old guys compared to you, just coming out of college and having success on the TOUR? Does that help set your future and think, okay, am I going to stay four years at Stanford, am I going to come out early, if these guys can do it, I can too?
PATRICK RODGERS: Yeah, seeing a lot of guys have success is just really a testament to where amateur golf is right now. I think a lot of guys are coming out here and playing with a lot of confidence, and the game is kind of getting younger. Definitely without having the experience that I've had, just seeing those guys have success and having played against them each and every week in amateur golf has given me a lot of confidence coming out here that my game is good enough to compete.
Like I said, I'm just really ready to play well this week.
Q. Do you look at Patrick Cantlay as kind of a blueprint for how you want to set yourself up in the future??
PATRICK RODGERS: Yeah, I don't know if I'll be exactly the same, but certainly he's had a lot of success. The one thing I really admire about him is he's really gotten better each and every year. He's kind of gone through the stages of golf quickly, but he's gotten better every year, so that's something that I aspire to do and always keep improving. Whenever the time comes, then I'll make the next step.
Q. Are you following the discussion about what they're going to do with Tour school??
PATRICK RODGERS: Yeah.
Q. Are you disappointed that maybe that opportunity is not going to be there come--
PATRICK RODGERS: It certainly is weighing a lot on every top college player's mind. I mean, it's a big change for the TOUR. I think it'll eventually be a really good thing for the PGA TOUR and the Web.com TOUR now. But certainly I think the changes are weighing on everybody's mind.
Q. You mentioned you're a sports fan, a basketball fan. Being out at Stanford did you enjoy any basketball games? One of your best players, Chasson Randle, is from our area.
PATRICK RODGERS: Yeah, I love basketball, and my favorite basketball is college basketball, and to be able to go to school at Stanford, it has a lot of basketball tradition. To be able to kind of watch the team and-- I mean, all sports, really. I really enjoyed watching Andrew Luck, and I'm a big sports fan in general, and I think Stanford is a really unique place in that we have the top athletes from every sport, sports that I have really never followed before. So it was a really unique experience, and I really enjoyed watching the basketball team have success.
Q. Did you play any golf with Michelle Wie out there??
PATRICK RODGERS: I did not play with her, but she was out practicing at some of our facilities around campus, so I saw her a little bit.
Q. You could have picked her brain a little bit about this course, too.
PATRICK RODGERS: Yeah, she has some experience here. I should have done that.
DOUG MILNE: Patrick, we appreciate your time. Best of luck this week.