They said his name with Tiger’s. Jack’s his friend. But Sunday could be his biggest day.  

Patrick Rodgers

Patrick Rodgers hits his tee shot on Saturday on the 3rd hole at the Mexico Open.

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Jack Nicklaus once told him to wait. And he will. 

And that’s kind of been a theme with Patrick Rodgers for a while: Waiting. Great things were expected from the 29-year-old ball flusher when he left Stanford in 2014. He had been the No. 1-ranked amateur. He had won 11 times with the Cardinal. Some dude named Tiger won the same amount. 

Then golf happened. Today, you can’t miss. Tomorrow, you can’t make. One day, you’re on top of the world. The next, you’ve lost your Tour card. Rodgers has been solid over the past eight years. But unspectacular. Three seconds. Two thirds. No wins. Last year, he had dipped all the way out of the FedEx Cup 125 and was needing a top 25 finish in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals to get back with the big boys. 

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Rodgers finished 20th. And he’ll confirm that you maybe really don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone.       

“Yeah, getting back, getting my Tour card back from the Korn Ferry Finals, it was a great mental exercise,” he said Saturday. “It gave me definitely some added perspective and appreciation for being a PGA Tour player, and I think that really showed in the fall. I played with a lot of freedom, a lot of gratitude for being a PGA Tour player. 

“I didn’t really anticipate ever being in that position, but I was proud of the way that I managed it.”

Which brings us back to this week. Which brings us back to the Golden Bear. 

Along the way, Rodgers has developed a friendship with golf’s all-time major winner. In 2014, he won the Nicklaus Award, given annually to the best college player. Rodgers is also a member of the Bear’s Club in Florida, and every so often he sees the club’s founder. He’s done more than shake his hand a few times, though. Rodgers has Nicklaus’ ear. 

Sunday, he’ll have Nicklaus on his mind. Rodgers enters the final round of the Mexico Open three back of leader Jon Rahm. It’s a tall order, regardless of the potential breakthrough on the line. But not insurmountable. This week, Rodgers said he has prided himself on his patience, and he’ll need to be even more so to finally win. 

After all, Nicklaus once told Rodgers that he himself never tried to win. He just waited. 

“Honestly, there’s some advice that I’m going to try to use tomorrow,” Rodgers said. “It was really surprising to hear him say it, but he said he never tried to win a golf tournament. Obviously he got his fair share, [but] he just tried to do his part and manage what was under his control and trust it would fall his way in the end. 

“So I definitely need to listen to that advice as I take on this challenge tomorrow.”

Jack Nicklaus once told him to wait. And he will. 

“Like we all say, I don’t feel that far off,” Rodgers said. “I don’t feel like there’s any gaping holes in my game and really the exercise is to stay as patient and have a full bucket of confidence each and every week. So I’m trying to do my best to carry myself that way and fortunately have a great opportunity here tomorrow.”

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