If not for that pesky Green Mile, Patrick Rodgers could have secured a special, temporary membership on the PGA Tour for the rest of the season.
Instead, the 22-year-old rookie will have to settle for the next three tournaments while staying in great position to play the rest of the year on tour.
Rodgers, a member of the Web.com Tour, finished at 14-under par for the Wells Fargo Championship and in a tie for second place with Webb Simpson. Had Rodgers finished alone in second, he would have made enough points to earn his temporary membership on the PGA Tour.
He had it firmly in his graspwhile standing on the tee at No. 17, and then it went away.
“I’m just trying to finish off as best I can,” Rodgers said. “That’s a tough stretch to finish it off, especially in a new situation for me.
“I felt really comfortable out there. Obviously disappointed with the finish. It’s something I’ll definitely learn from and be better for the next time in that position.”
Rodgers, who was playing at Quail Hollow Club on a sponsor’s exemption this weekend, was 17 under at the tee at 17 when his shot went into the water. That led to a double bogey. He followed that by hitting his tee shot on 18 into the creek and finished with a bogey on the final hole.
He already had an exemption for next week’s Colonial, and his second-place tie got him exemptions in the Byron Nelson Championship and the following week’s Memorial Tournament.
In an interesting twist, Rodgers was paired with his roommate, Justin Thomas, for the final round. The two rent a house in Jupiter, Fla., and regularly play at the Bear’s Club, a course designed by Jack Nicklaus.
“It was just like hanging out playing at the Bear’s Club,” Rodgers said of Sunday’s round. “I was telling my caddy walking off the first tee it almost didn’t feel like a tournament.”
Before he praised Quail Hollow Club on another “astounding” tournament, Phil Mickelson did his usual dance with No. 18 on Sunday.
He carded a par on the par-4 final hole, but it took him hitting his approach out of a fairway bunker, his third shot out of the primary rough and holing a 10-foot putt for par.
This came one day after he recorded a triple bogey on the final hole and three days after he had a double bogey in his opening round. He finished the tournament at 5 over on the 18th hole.
“It’s a very difficult hole for me,” Mickelson explained. “If I take it to the left I have to hit driver to carry the water. …If I pull it like I did today I go in the bunker up against the lip. I have to wedge out. If I try to play short, the fairway runs off into the rough.
“For me, I don’t know – I don’t know how to play it. Everybody else has to, too. It just has my number.”
▪ A CBS cameraman tripped and fell on the eighth fairway while filming the final group. While on the ground, he kept the camera on his shoulder and continued shooting from a seated position while earning cheers from the crowd.
▪ Only William McGirt and Billy Hurley III had bogey-free Sundays.
By the numbers
4.411 Stroke average at No. 16, which played as the toughest hole on Sunday.
Dollars earned by McIlroy for the win.
8 Top-10 finishes for Mickelson in 12 appearances at Quail Hollow.
21 Rounds of par or better for McIlroy in 26 competitive rounds at Quail Hollow.