Rodgers shares lead at Sea Island with another chance to win



ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) — Patrick Rodgers birdied four straight late in his round Saturday and finished with a save par for a 6-under 64, giving him a share of the lead with Ben Martin in the RSM Classic and another shot at his first PGA Tour title.

Martin was close to matching that score until he went short on the 18th green, chipped just inside 5 feet and missed the par putt. He had a 65.

They were 14-under 198 at the final PGA Tour event of the year, and it was far from a two-man race.

Ten players were within two strokes of the lead, a group that included Sahith Theegala (68), Brian Harman (64) and even Harry Higgs, who was top of the standings at the start of the day and had a birdie putt of 25 feet on the last hole for a 70.

Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., hit the biggest shot with a 62, including an eagle on the par-5 15th hole, putting it one shot behind with Theegala and Andrew Putnam, who also shared the 36-hole lead. He saved par from a bunker on the last hole for a 69.

Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., moved up 13 spots to tie seven for sixth with a 65. He’s also two shots off the lead.

Cole Hammer, who graduated from Texas in May and plays on a sponsor exemption, was tied for the lead heading into the weekend. He was 4 on five holes and shot a 72. Even so, he was only four strokes behind.

Rodgers pressed the reset button after last season ended in August, putting a plan in place with swing coach Jeff Smith that involves making incremental improvements. It seems to work. He finished tied for third in Bermuda three weeks ago and has been a constant presence at fall events.

Rodgers was the highest-ranked amateur in the world in his senior year at Stanford. He is making his 226th start on the PGA Tour and is still looking for his first win.

It didn’t take long to get into the mix. He made a 25-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole, pushed his approach to 6 feet on the difficult 14th, birdied 8 feet on the par-5 15th and capped his run with a birdie putt from 30 feet on the 16th.

“I feel like I’ve put together a little offseason with my coach, Jeff Smith. We’ve really got a good plan in place,” Rodgers said. “I feel more comfortable. It’s a Tough game and it’s always nice to see that hard work pays off.

Eight of the top ranked players have yet to win on the PGA Tour.

Theegala certainly had his chances in his rookie year which saw him reach the Tour Championship. Pendrith gained a lot of experience playing his first Presidents Cup in September. Taylor Montgomery has had a strong start to the season with five top-15 finishes. He is already ranked 65th in the world.

Martin’s lone PGA Tour win was eight years ago in Las Vegas.


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