It might seem strange to start comparing Patrick Rodgers, the No. 1 ranked amateur golfer in the world, with Tiger Woods, but other than 14 major victories, there isn’t much that separates the two as golfers.
Rodgers has said he idolized Woods growing up, and he certainly followed in his footsteps, taking a popular junior amateur career to Stanford University, where he won 11 tournaments, tying Woods’ school record.
Now, they’ll be swinging sticks for the same company, as Nike introduced Rodgers as the newest member of its golf team on site at the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn. on Tuesday.
“Patrick comes to us with an amazing amateur and collegiate career, and some of the things that he’s accomplished are in the record books,” said Marlin ‘Cricket’ Musch, a sports marketing director at Nike, before rattling off Rodgers’ lengthy list of accomplishments. “He is no question one of the most athletic and mature kids that we’ve ever seen in all of the years doing this.”
A two-time all-American at Stanford, Rodgers just finished his junior season in which he won both the Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus awards honoring the NCAA’s best player. He put Nike clubs in his bag earlier this year, a transition that is never easy for any competitive golfer, but eventually won five of his final seven collegiate events.
“Performance comes first,” Rodgers said at the conference. “Obviously in the end that made the difference for me.”
Rodgers will forego his final year of eligibility and turn professional this week, and he notes that he is most excited to “come out and compete” on the PGA Tour, where he has already played three events, making the cut and finishing T15 at the 2013 John Deere Classic.
It wasn’t long ago, he said, that his father asked him what he likes most about the game.
“My answer was that you can never beat it,” said Rodgers.
With a young career shadowing that of Tiger Woods, Rodgers could be tough to beat as well.