Junior Patrick Rodgers, the No. 1 player in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, announced Monday that he will forgo his senior season at Stanford to pursue a professional career.
"The reason for coming out with this announcement now is over the past year, there has been growing speculation of what my plans would be. I thought I owed it to the team, to Coach (Conrad) Ray, and Stanford University to get ahead of the situation and come out with it now in order for it to not become a distraction for myself or the team.
"I think we have an amazing team -- the best that we've had in my three years here -- and we have an opportunity to do something special. I want to put all of the focus on trying to win a national championship for the team."
The two-time first team All-American ranks as Stanford's career scoring average leader. His 70.55 strokes per round betters that of Tiger Woods' 70.96.
Rodgers also has seven career wins, tying him with Joel Kribel for career victories by a Cardinal. The pair trails only Tiger Woods' 11.
"The numbers speak for themselves," said Ray. "He's one of the best college golfers we've ever had.
"It's bittersweet for me, because as a coach and a guy that values his role on the team, we're going to hate losing him. Even if it was next year after graduation, we'd love to take 10 guys like Patrick and see how we'd do. His work ethic is insatiable. He has characteristics of world-class players. It's a credit to him that he has taken a lot of well-thought time to analyze the situation he has in front of him. To Patrick's credit, he's made all the right steps and moves to date. You have to trust in his instincts and direction he's going with his game.
Academically, Rodgers will be ahead of schedule at the completion of his junior year.
"I do intend to come back at some point and finish my education," Rodgers said. "In the very near future, I will be shifting my sole focus on starting my professional golf career. After navigating through the terrain and difficulties that process presents, I intend to complete work towards my Stanford degree.
"I've put a priority both on golf and in the classroom. I'm really proud of the work that I've done in the classroom and the experiences that I've gained. I think it's a unique university, with the brilliant minds and professors, guest lecturers and all the students who bring so much to the table academically and athletically."
Rodgers has had a taste of the professional circuit by playing in several PGA and Web.com Tour events over his career, even capturing the lead at the John Deere Classic in 2013 before finishing 15th.
"He's at a crossroads where most people will look at his situation and say, 'You're very close to finishing Stanford. Why wouldn't you do that?'" Ray said. "But sometimes it's a little more complicated than that, the way the qualifying school and PGA Tour have changed their schedule, and ability to get out there and have a sustainable career as a professional. Some of those details have factored into his decision."
Rodgers was part of the United States team that claimed the 2013 Walker Cup title, making him the only Stanford player other than Woods to play on two Walker Cup squads.
The Avon, Ind., native has been named to the 2014 watch lists for both the Haskins and Ben Hogan awards, two of college golf's most prestigious individual honors.
"Stanford has done so much more for me than golf," Rodgers said. "The immense social network between alumni and students is just incredible. Both the golf program and academic environment have accelerated my progress beyond what I ever thought possible and prepared me really well for life on the PGA Tour. I couldn't have done what I have done so far without the help of Stanford University."
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