SILVIS — In case you weren’t aware of it, Saturday was “National Give Something Away Day.’’
Patrick Rodgers just decided to observe it a day late.
The 25-year-old former Stanford University star led the John Deere Classic by two strokes after 36 holes. He also led by two strokes after 54 holes. He still led by two very far into Sunday’s final round.
But somehow, when the smoke from Pork Chop Hill had cleared, Rodgers found himself in second place in the JDC with another up-and-coming young pro, Bryson DeChambeau, hoisting that iconic leaping buck trophy.
To Rodgers’ credit, he accepted the agonizing outcome with more dignity and candor than you might expect from someone so young.
“I’m going to hold my head high and move forward,’’ he told reporters, “and I hope to win soon.’’
DeChambeau certainly did as much to win the tournament as Rodgers did to lose it. He peeled six strokes off par on the back nine and rolled in a 14-foot putt for birdie on No. 18, one of the toughest holes on the TPC Deere Run course, at about the time Rodgers was bogeying No. 17, one of the easiest.
Rodgers knew exactly how he let the big one get away: Too many bogeys.
He had only three bogeys in the first three rounds of the tournament, but he had four on Sunday. The two he had on the back nine were especially painful.
He had birdied No. 14 in each of the first three rounds and had birdied No. 17 in two of those rounds.
He bogeyed both on Sunday.
“Making bogeys on easy holes is never good,’’ he said. “I didn’t make many bogeys this week and to have two of them on simple holes probably cost me the golf tournament.’’
Rodgers ended up shooting a 1-under-par 70 in the final round, which would be good enough in many tournaments. But the John Deere Classic is all about shooting low, low scores. Very often the winner is 20-under par.
Rodgers, acutely aware of that, was determined not to be conservative Sunday.
“Having the 36-hole lead and the 54-hole lead, your tendency when you have the lead is to try to hold on and play safe and guard against making mistakes,’’ he said. “But I had guys coming at me. There were some really low rounds and obviously Bryson shot a very good one today.’’
Still, just a little bit of care and caution might have helped.
By mixing four bogeys with five birdies, Rodgers kept leaving the door ajar for anyone pursuing him. The golfers closest to him at the start of the day — Daniel Berger, Scott Stallings, Nicholas Lindheim — failed to capitalize.
DeChambeau, who began the day four strokes behind, seized the moment.
Rodgers still had the lead when he came to No. 17 and he said he thought another birdie there might clinch the championship. But he swatted his tee shot into some trees and as he stood there trying to figure out how to escape that predicament, he heard the roar from No. 18, where DeChambeau tied him at 18-under with his birdie putt.
When Rodgers took a bogey at No. 17, he fell a stroke behind.
He then hit his tee shot on No. 18 into the trees on the right and although he managed to save par, it wasn’t enough.
Rodgers admitted it would have been very special to have gotten his first career victory at the JDC.
The tournament gave him sponsor’s exemptions when he was still in college in 2012 and 2013 and again after he turned pro in 2014. It’s also one of the closest PGA Tour events to his hometown of Avon, Indiana.
“Obviously, there were a ton of reasons why I wanted to win this week,’’ he said. “This tournament being so special is certainly one of them. I had so many friends and family here and that’s not always the case when you’re across the country and in contention on this tour.’’
By the way, Saturday also was “Toss Away the ‘Could Haves’ and ‘Should Haves’ Day.’’
Rodgers already was doing that within minutes after Sunday’s tournament ended.
“I don’t really have a ton of regrets,’’ he said. “I’m proud of myself for staying aggressive all day. Obviously you look at the back nine and making bogeys on 14 and 17, that’s where I lost the golf tournament. Those are pretty simple holes but I made bogeys by staying aggressive and I wouldn’t go back and change anything.
“I’m looking forward to being in this position again soon.’’