By Amanda Herrington, AJGA Communications
BRASELTON, Ga. (July 10, 2012) - Former AJGA player and Stanford golfer Patrick Rodgers will tee off with the pros at the John Deere Classic, July 9-15, at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. Rodgers, the Pac-12 Conference’s Player of the Year, received a sponsor exemption after a sentimental appeal to JDC Tournament Director Clair Peterson.
“He wrote us a terrific letter, explaining that he was very familiar with the John Deere Classic, having been in town for an AJGA event in 2007,” Peterson said. “He came out to the tournament that year and watched Jonathan Byrd win. He even admitted to walking by the woods of the driving range collecting lost range balls.”
A native of Avon, Ind., Rodgers shares a special history with the John Deere Classic.
“The year Jonathan Byrd won, my friend and I watched the final round and then stayed until everyone left and walked the back nine reliving the shots we had just seen,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers will create his own shots at next week’s PGA TOUR event, as he joins Texas’ Jordan Spieth as the only two amateurs in the field.
“I would say more than any other event I feel a close connection to the John Deere Classic based on my Midwest upbringing and past experiences,” Rodgers said. “I can't wait to spend the week there.”
Those past experiences include two appearances at the AJGA John Deere Classic Junior Open, including the 2009 tournament where he tied for second. Among Rodgers’ other AJGA accomplishments, he was a two-time Rolex Junior All-American, as well as a two-time HP Scholastic Junior All-American. Rodgers amassed nine top-10 finishes, including a win at the 2009 Cleveland Junior Open.
While the rising sophomore boasts an impressive collegiate record that includes 10 top-10 finishes in 12 events, PING First-Team All-American honors, and a finalist for the 2012 Ben Hogan Award, Peterson credits Rodgers’ junior roots as a compelling reason for his invitation to play in the John Deere Classic.
“Mainly, it was the fact that he had such good golf memories from his trip here as an AJGA player,” Peterson said. “Being part of an AJGA event has benefits that sometimes are unexpected. The AJGA puts on a great event that showcases our community and allows players and families to become acquainted with us.”
Among the John Deere Classic’s previous sponsor exemptions are AJGA alum and PGA TOUR professional Bill Haas, Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson, Kyle Stanley and Tiger Woods.