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Patrick Rodgers’ competitive spirit shows at Wells Fargo Championship

jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Patrick Rodgers doesn’t shy away from competition. If anything, he invites it. Sometimes he even moves to get closer to it.

It’s why the 22-year-old went to Stanford and chased Tiger Woods’ records with the Cardinal golf team. It’s also why he recently moved to Jupiter, Fla., so he could compete with his peers at the Bear’s Club golf course founded by Jack Nicklaus.

This week at Quail Hollow Club, on a sponsor’s exemption, Rodgers continues to match himself with the best. After two rounds of 4-under-par play, Rodgers is tied for third at 8-under in the Wells Fargo Championship.

Rodgers has figured out since he turned professional 11 months ago that he doesn’t need to press to be in the position he’s in this weekend.

“I learned I don’t have to do anything special, that my golf is good enough to compete and contend here,” Rodgers said. “I think at times throughout my professional career I’ve tried to do something extra special or force the issue.

“I don’t have to do anything out of the ordinary. Just play good, simple golf and get it done.”

Rodgers has mostly been associated with Woods through his career. Before leaving school one year early, Rodgers tied Woods’ mark with 11 wins at Stanford.

He’s been on the Web.com Tour since becoming a pro, and his chances for earning a PGA Tour card got a big boost with his February win in the Colombia Championship. He’s third in the Web.com standings, and the top 25 earn their cards at the end of the year.

That win takes some of the pressure off Rodgers and lets him focus on the tournaments where he gets exemptions.

He had just one bogey on Friday, which came on the par-4 ninth. Through two days he has seven birdies on the four par-5s.

“Most of the tee shots set up really, really well for me,” Rodgers said. “It really suits a high draw off the tee and I’m really able to be aggressive with some of the irons. It’s been a big advantage so far. I feel really comfortable with most of the tee shots.”

Rodgers is part of the much-discussed youth movement in golf. He got “a ton of confidence” seeing 21-year-old Jordan Spieth win the Masters.

Rodgers discussed his confidence while standing in a press conference room adorned with pictures of former tournament winners. To his left were pictures of a 22-year-old Derek Ernst, a 20-year-old Rory McIlroy and a 23-year-old Rickie Fowler hoisting the trophy through the years. It was the first PGA Tour win for each of those stars.

Born in Indiana, Rodgers moved to Florida after turning professional for the weather and the golf. He rooms with fellow golfer Justin Thomas, 22, and regularly plays at the Bear’s Club.

“There’s a ton of good players that are close to my age down there, so there’s always a fun game,” Rodgers said. “I’ve always been a firm believer (that) I want to be around the best players I can be around. I feel like it’s going to push me to be the best player I can be.”

He’s known Thomas, who has four top-10s this season, since they played junior golf together. They’re renting their home, and Rodgers admitted Thomas is the cleaner of the two.

“I do have the master bedroom,” Rodgers said. “I got that one up on him.”

They didn’t decide that on the course, though. They just flipped a coin.

Jones: 704-358-5323;

Twitter: @jjones9

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