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Central Catholic's Rodgers seeking to become all-around golfer

| Saturday, June 8, 2013, 10:45 p.m.
Brent Rodgers (left) with his high school golf coach Cory O'Conner

The game of golf is a myriad of physical and mental skills that when put together can lead to success.

For Central Catholic junior and Cranberry resident Brent Rodgers, his golf game has skyrocketed lately thanks in part to his ability to drive the ball like the fictitious character Happy Gilmore, but without the antics.

Rodgers tallied a drive of 429 yards, two feet and six inches at the Remax World Long Drive Championship, good enough for a first-place finish.

“This is something I do for fun, a hobby,” Rodgers said about his driving ability. “My passion is to play college golf. I know I have the long game, and my short game is coming along.”

Rodgers' driving distance is not a fluky thing. At the Remax competition, he hit 9 of 16 drives more than 415 yards.

“When I was young, my dad put a heavy sand wedge in my hand and had me hit the ball as hard as I could,” Rodgers said. “I grew up around golf, my dad has been doing long drive competitions since the 1970s.”

He attributes a little of his success to his dad and also to baseball, which helped him with his power.

“He has a certain swing, and his swing speed helps him overpower courses,” said Corey O'Connor, Rodgers golf coach at Central Catholic. “It's funny, I will invite friends to come out and watch him play. I encourage people to come out and see him play. He is talented and amazing to watch.”

Although his talent is amazing, so is his sense of team. Last year, Rodgers qualified for the Remax World Finals, but that competition conflicted with the WPIAL team championships. Rodgers opted to be a team player rather than vie for individual accolades. His unselfish nature paid off. With a WPIAL individual title already in hand, Rodgers helped his team earn the team gold as well.

The silver lining to the golden season is that Rodgers is in line for another chance at the Remax World Finals in Las Vegas. He has qualified locally, and next is a regional qualifier at Conneaut Lake's Oakland Beach Gold Course in mid-July.

He was the youngest qualifier last year for the world finals, and if he qualifies this year, he will again be the youngest qualifier.

The reward for winning the event, a cash prize of $250,000, is one Rodgers said he would not accept if obtained.

“My goal is not the long drive, it's just for fun and something to do with my dad,” Rodgers said. “Golf is my passion, and I do not want to affect my amateur status … taking the money would cost me my college eligibility.”

Rodgers wants to have a great senior season at Central Catholic and then move on to college. At the moment, Allegheny College has an eye on him, but heading south to Costal Carolina or another school where he can practice all year is appealing to him.

Although he is a scratch golfer who owns the school record with a score of 36.2 for nine holes (the previous record was 36.4), Rodgers still wants to improve. He has several junior tournament championships on his resume, but has his sights set on improving his short game in order to be a complete golfer.

“As a freshman and a sophomore, he had the long ball, but last year as a junior the short game started to click,” O'Connor said. “He can control a four-iron off the tee and then hit a seven-iron to the green. He is able to go around a course and understand the distances.”

Jerry Clark is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jeclark@tribweb.com.

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