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June 1, 2014

Jack Nicklaus

Patrick Rodgers


THE MODERATOR:  Welcome to the 2014 Jack Nicklaus Collegiate Player of the Year Award presentations.  This year's honorees had outstanding seasons and were selected as the Player of the Year in their respective divisions.
Our first recipient from the NJCAA is Tim Walker from Central Alabama Community College.  Tim came to Central Alabama from Victoria, Australia.  And the sophomore led Central Alabama by winning three tournaments and finishing second in three others.
He's the top‑ranked golfer in the NJCAA.¬† And he posted 10 top‑10 finishes in 12 events and placed no lower than 14th.
Academically, he was named to the Dean's List on two of his four semesters at Central Alabama where he earned his associate's degree.
He signed a Letter of Intent with Mississippi State University where he will continue his collegiate career in the fall.
Walker is Central Alabama's first Nicklaus Award recipient.  He could not be with us here today because he's already left to go back to his native Australia, but accepting the award on his behalf is his coach, Dave Jennings.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Our second recipient is from Division II, Adam Svensson, from Barry University.¬† He's a two‑time PING First‑Team All‑America selection and led Barry to back‑to‑back Division II Championships.¬† He won seven tournaments this season, which set new single‑season and career marks at Barry.
His worst finish this year is a tie for 14th and is his only showing outside the top eight in 12 events.  He twice set school records during his sophomore campaign for low round of the school and low tournament.
He hails from Surrey Vancouver and was named Barry University's Male Athlete of the Year, and he's the school's first Nicklaus Award recipient.
Accepting on his behalf, his coach, Chris Carlin.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Our next recipient is from the NAIA, James Marchesani, who earned his fourth PING First‑Team All‑America recognition this season.
The senior from Rosebud, Victoria, Australia, also earned the Arnold Palmer Award for claiming medalist honors at the NAIA National Championship.  It was one of six victories for Marchesani including his last five events of the season.
He was named the Sooner Athletic Conference Golfer of the Year and led the NAIA with a 70.74 stroke average.
He is Oklahoma City's fifth four‑time First‑Team All‑American, fifth NAIA individual champion, and he's the third Nicklaus Award winner including their second straight.
He's joined today by his coach Kyle Blaser and his swinging coach from Australia, Greg McConnell.
James Marchesani.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Our next recipient is from Division III, Bobby Holden, of the University of Redlands.¬† He completed an impressive junior campaign that culminated in winning the Division III NCAA championship.¬† The win was his second of the season.¬† He also finished runner‑up on four occasions and only finished outside of the top 10 twice.
He was named the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Association Lee Fulmer Athlete of the Year for Men's Golf and as a PING First‑Team All‑America selection.
In addition, the native of Simi, California, illustrates the epitome of the student‑athlete with recognition as a Redlands Scholar‑Athlete, Cleveland Golf/Srixon All‑America Scholar, and being named a CoSIDA Academic At‑Large All‑District.
He is the first Nicklaus Award recipient from Redlands.  He's joined today by his coach, Butch Edge.
Bobby Holden.
THE MODERATOR:¬† Our final recipient is from DivisionI, Stanford's Patrick Rodgers.¬† A junior from Avon, Indiana, Rodgers had six victories this season and tied Tiger Woods' all‑time Stanford career record for 11 wins.¬† His season victories have come at the Erin Hills Invitational, The Goodwin, Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters, The Prestige, Pac‑12 Championships, and the NCAA Eugene Regional.
A three‑time PING First‑Team All‑America selection, Rodgers boasts nine top‑10 finishes this season.¬† He also won the Ben Hogan Award and was named the Pac‑12 Player of the Year.
Rodgers led Stanford to the NCAA semifinals, posting a 2‑0 record in match play.¬† He is Stanford's first Nicklaus Award recipient since Tiger Woods in 1996.
He is joined today by his parents, Charlie and Judy, his sister Caroline, and girlfriend Megan.
Patrick Rodgers.
THE MODERATOR:  And I'll turn it over to Mr. Nicklaus for comments.
JACK NICKLAUS:  I don't think I've ever made a comment before, have I?
Anyway, my congratulations to these young men.  This award, I'm very honored to have my name on it.  NCAA decided that that's what they wanted to do and have Nicklaus be a part of it.
I think I had a little bit to do with what you've changed as your format and trying to get match play into collegiate golf.¬† I think what they've done is‑‑ my feeling a while back was that everything was medal play, and as a result a lot of the guys I thought felt were playing and having a hard time actually finishing after they went to the next level.
And so they added match play in it to try to get a little bit of balance in it, and I think that's‑‑ I appreciated you guys doing that, but also I think the players will appreciate it, because coming down the stretch to learn how to finish is a good way to have to do something.
But congratulations, guys, on your awards.¬† I know that many of you are going back to school.¬† Some of you are going off and‑‑ as Patrick is, you're going off and do your thing now, go play golf.
So I wish you all the best of luck, and congratulations.  And hopefully this award will mean something to you as the time goes on.  Hope it means something now, too.
But, anyway, thank you so much.
THE MODERATOR:  And now we'll open it up for questions.

Q.  Jack, I'm curious, you talked about the NCAAs and match play.  Did you watch any of the match play over the weekend?
JACK NICKLAUS:  No, I didn't see any, I'm sorry.

Q.  Could you talk more about why you felt it was important to switch over to the match play format?
JACK NICKLAUS:  When we played, it used to be different.  They've changed the NCAA many times.  But when we played, we played 36 holes qualifying.  And that 36 holes was a team championship.  And then the low 64 players qualified for match play and went on for match play for the individual title.
And I think that the coaches felt like that the team title was more important than the individual title, but they wanted to have a form of match play in it so that it goes right now to‑‑ I guess you have 36 holes for the team title‑‑ or for the individual title?
PATRICK RODGERS:  They wanted 72.  54.
JACK NICKLAUS:  It's 54 holes, and then they go to match play as a team to determine the team champion.
So it's a format of a variety.
But what I felt was important was that I kept seeing‑‑ and I suppose the Ryder Cup here in many ways in 1987 was one of the things that sort of got me thinking that way, is that I saw our guys having so much trouble finishing a golf tournament.¬† When we had the Ryder Cup here in 1987, the American team did not tie or win the 18th hole when it was important.¬† As a matter of fact, they never won the 18th hole one time in any of the matches.
And I felt like, well, you know, when you're playing match play, a lot of times when you're playing a team thing, the coach will go out and he'll tell you‑‑ and our coach did back years ago‑‑ will go out say, okay, you've got a difficult‑‑ let's just make an example using Augusta.
We talked about if we played the 11th hole at Augusta, he would say, okay, I want everybody to hit the ball to the right of the green and pitch on.  If you make 4, you make 4; if you don't make 4, you make 5 at the worst and you're never going to hurt the team.
Well, there's some times when you need to make 3, and there's some times in match play where you have to gut it out.  And you come down to the last hole, you need to be able to gut it out at the end of the thing.
I felt like match play did that.¬† Head‑to‑head competition, got the guys so that they had to figure out how to win and not just be how you finish somewhere in the middle of the pack.
So I thought it was important that they had that head‑to‑head competition.¬† NCAA put it in.¬† They felt like that that was important, too, they could help teach the kids a variety of both match and medal play.¬† And I think it was a nice compliment to me that they did consider that.
But I think it will produce better players.

Q.  Patrick, since you're turning, can you kind of give us an update of what your plans are and how your thoughts are going into professional golf?
PATRICK RODGERS:¬† Yeah, I'm really excited.¬† Obviously NCAA Championship was‑‑ it was a whirlwind, but it was really exciting and so much fun for me to be a part of.¬† Competing there with my team down the stretch, it was one of my greatest experiences in golf.
But I'm excited to start my professional career.¬† I'll be at the Travelers Championship for my first event.¬† I couldn't be more‑‑ like I said, couldn't be more excited to get started.¬† I'm ready to work really hard here with my team back in Indiana and finish school.¬† Out at Stanford I still have a final.¬† So it's kind of been a whirlwind, but I'm really excited to get going.

Q.  Jordan Spieth said that he felt you were more prepared to turn professional than either him or Justin Thomas were.  Can you talk about how you see that?
PATRICK RODGERS:  Well, obviously I had more time at school than those guys did, but I felt like Stanford was a huge benefit for me to become the best player that I could be.  I felt like I've really grown as a player each year that I've been there, continue to develop with the team that they have there.
And this year I really felt like I was ready to go out and play golf at the professional level.  I had a successful first three years, and, like I said, I couldn't be more happy and excited about how those three years went.
But I'm ready to tackle the challenge.  I know it's going to be difficult, especially living up to the great play of guys like Jordan and some of my other peers that I've played Walker Cup teams with.
But I couldn't be more excited to take that challenge on.
JACK NICKLAUS:  I think he answered that very well.  He's going to get a lot more questions as time goes on.
You gotta watch out for guys like him.  He's trying to bait you.
Q.Patrick, with a change to the PGA TOUR qualifying system, what's your blueprint?  You're playing in the Travelers.  Would your focus be on the Web.com Tour after that?
PATRICK RODGERS:  Yeah, my focus this summer is on the PGA TOUR, playing on sponsors exemptions.  Hopefully I play well and all goes well and I play great and that's my avenue to the PGA TOUR.  But I know that there's very few people that have done, and it's, quite simply, not that easy.
So hopefully in the first year, year and a half I'll play well in the opportunities that I'm presented with.  And my goal is just to keep it very simple, continue to execute my routines and do what I've been doing for the last three or four years.  And if I stick to how I play my best golf, I think the results will take care of themselves.

Q.  Patrick, you got a schedule in place after the Travelers, or have you even gotten that far?
PATRICK RODGERS:  I'm working on different sponsor exemptions.  I got an exemption into the John Deere Classic and hopefully a few more.
Like I said, I'm excited to compete every time I get the opportunity.  I know they're very hard to come by, and there's a lot of great players that are fighting for those spots.
But every time I tee it up, I'll be ready to play.  And I'm really excited to go out there and compete.

Q.  For all of you guys, regarding Mr.Nicklaus' comments about match play, I know Patrick just played in the match play portion of the NCAAs, but with that format at the DivisionI, also has there been an increase in the amount of matches you play at all levels in college golf, or is it still almost entirely stroke play?
JAMES MARCHESANI:  I'll speak for the NAIA.  I know the national tournament's 72 holes, but in saying that, I agree with Mr.Nicklaus that match play really does help you finish off matches and teaches you that.
Playing back in Australia, I played a lot of match play growing up, so I can understand his thoughts on that.
Whether the NAIA will adapt to that format, I'm not too sure.  But I think match play is a great idea.
BOBBY HOLDEN:  For Division III, we have the same format as them, 72 holes.  No match play.  So haven't had much experience for match play.  It would be nice to be able to have that change.  But not really used to it.

Q.¬† Patrick, did you guys do anything during the season to get ready for the match play?¬† Did you play any‑‑ like a match against Cal or something?
PATRICK RODGERS:  Obviously, it's a little different for DivisionI, because almost the whole year every competition is stroke play, and then all of a sudden the biggest competition of the year, those last three matches are match play.  So you really have to be ready for that and be ready for the gut check that it brings.
So we were trying to play each other in matches for the last few months leading up to the NCAA Finals.  Whenever we'd go out and play, just pick a partner and try to make it mean something.
I think we were ready.  But speaking from a playing perspective, and that was my first time going through the NCAA match play, it's an experience unlike anything else in golf.  Very comparative to a Walker Cup or I would assume the way a Ryder Cup feels.  Definitely similar to coming down the stretch trying to close out a tournament, but much more pressure when you've got your four guys and your team and your university that you're playing for as opposed to just your individual success.
JACK NICKLAUS:  You played quite a bit of match play, though, playing Walker Cup, didn't you?
PATRICK RODGERS:  Yes, Walker Cups and U.S. Am being match play, Western Amateur.
So amateur golf is great.  You have a lot of match play.  I like the NCAA format of match play.  I think it was great excitement and it was a thrill to be able to compete in that format.

Q.  Can you guys just each one of you talk about what your memorable shots were this year during your season?
PATRICK RODGERS:  There was a lot of them.
PATRICK RODGERS:  But college golf is so much fun.  I don't even know if it was maybe one of my shots, but for me maybe one of the most special moments was watching my teammate Cameron finish off his NCAA Championship.
Obviously it was a spot that I would have liked to be in, competing for the individual trophy.¬† But to be out there and have the whole team out there to support him and watch him make the eight‑footer to win the NCAA Tournament, knowing how much that's meant to him and how hard he's worked, that was a really special moment for our team and for me.
JAMES MARCHESANI:  Personally for me it was the National Championship we just finished my senior year.  I was fortunate enough to birdie the last to force an individual playoff.  I didn't know exactly where I stood.  I think Coach knew.  He was walking around with me.  I think he knew.
But hit a shot in there to eight feet and made a birdie putt, and we went‑‑ went down extra holes down 18.¬† And my playing partner hit first, stuck a wedge in there to about 10 feet, and I proceeded to hit one to about two and a half feet and won the first playoff hole.
And it was special because my dad and little sister were fortunate enough to fly out and watch that.  So that was a pretty memorable thing for me.
JACK NICKLAUS:  Where did you guys play?
JAMES MARCHESANI:  LPGA International in Florida.

Q.  The Rees course.
JACK NICKLAUS:  I've never heard of it.  Where is it?

Q.  Rees Jones.  Daytona.
BOBBY HOLDEN:¬† For me just the last hole my national championship this year, because I had no idea where I was at in the tournament.¬† I had a pretty good lead, but no one ever told me‑‑ and my coach actually walked down the fairway with me.¬† So just having him walk down the fairway with me on the 18th hole was pretty special.¬† And every shot into that hole and making the putt and him telling me that I locked it up, it was pretty special.
JACK NICKLAUS:  Do I get to give you mine, too, Alex?

Q.  Please.  It's your tournament.
JACK NICKLAUS:  These guys would appreciate this story.  We didn't have a great college team.  But we got to the NCAAs, and we went to the NCAAs.  I was medalist and our second man was second medalist, and qualifying for match play, low 64.
And the rest of our team really wasn't too sharp.  We ended up tying for eighth on the teams.  We tied with Houston for eighth and Houston was defending champion.
The individual was Dick Crawford who had won the NCAA the two previous years.  Didn't make match play.  Ron Weber had a 13 on the last hole and Joel Goldstrand had two extra clubs, basically got 36 shots.  That's who we tied for eighth.  (Laughter.)
And oddly enough, Mike and I, my second man, the guy I played with on the team, we ended up playing in the finals, match play.  So I got to play my teammate, which was good.  It was good fun.  Mike's a nice player, good player.  36 hole match, I was lucky to win.  See, I remembered mine, too.

Q.  If you could expand on that a little bit.
JACK NICKLAUS:  What would you like to hear?

Q.  I'd like you to say, with no hedging here, the most pleasing shot you ever struck in your professional career?
JACK NICKLAUS:  The most pleasing shot I ever struck in my professional career?

Q.  It only covers about 50 years.
JACK NICKLAUS:  Do I get a chance to think about it?  Pretty hard to think of one.  I can't think of one.  I had several, obviously.
But to pick one, it's like choosing your favorite child.
JACK NICKLAUS:¬† That's a hard thing to select.¬† This is these guys' day; you don't want to hear about that from me.¬† Let's call‑‑ I don't know‑‑ the putt I tapped in at 18 in'86 to win the Masters.¬† It was four inches.

Q.  How much break was it?
JACK NICKLAUS:  It was straight uphill; it was easy.

Q.¬† Patrick may have already answered this:¬† I came in late.¬† But you were probably a sophomore, I'm thinking, when they announced the change in qualifying for the TOUR.¬† How has that affected how you're planning to go about the year?¬† Have you talked to anyone about‑‑ for example, Justin has pretty much stuck Web.com for the year.¬† Have you given that much consideration on which is the smarter or more efficient way to go?
PATRICK RODGERS:  Yeah, I think it's always maybe changing and working a little bit differently just based on the opportunities.  But my goal has been to basically maximize my window of opportunity to qualify for the PGA TOUR.
Like I said, I know it's going to be difficult.  But I also thought it was really important to finish school this year and be there for my team.  Although the window of opportunity for this summer is short, I think with this summer and the following year, the window of opportunity is a little bit longer.
And I know that no matter what opportunities are presented, if I take advantage of those and play my best golf at the right times, then that's my avenue to the PGA TOUR regardless of the system in place.

Q.  Are you in a rush?
PATRICK RODGERS:  No.  I mean, I think patience is probably the most difficult thing.  Of course, I want to get out there.  That's been my dream for a long time.  But I know that if I stay patient and I stick to what's got me here, then that's my ticket to the PGA TOUR.

Q.  Are you going to finish school?
PATRICK RODGERS:¬† My plans are to finish school.¬† Yeah.¬† I think it would be‑‑ it's prudent of me to focus on my professional career and getting started and having a secure job.¬† I know that it's not always so secure in golf.¬† But education has always been important to me and important to my family, and I intend to finish when the time is right.

Q.  You're a year ahead of Tiger at this stage.
JACK NICKLAUS:  Three years?

Q.  How much do you have left?
PATRICK RODGERS:  I have a year of school left.
JACK NICKLAUS:  Same thing I did.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  Congratulations again, guys.

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