The moral of the 2011 Porter Cup is that Patrick Rodgers has big time heart.

When the last group in Saturday’s final round approached the turn, Rodgers seemed destined to be a 2011 subplot. He’d launched his second shot over the 9th green, leaving himself a long chip with no green to work with that eventually added up to a bogey and dropped him to 8-under. On the same hole, Rodgers watched Wesley Bryan cap a magical front nine 29 and move to 14-under. Six down to the hottest player on the golf course, Rodgers and title contention weren’t even in the same zip code.

He mailed his tee shot on the tenth hole to a wrong address as well, as it would eventually find the 11th tee box way to the left of his target line. The poor drive resulted in another bogey and a seven-shot deficit to boot. Rodgers’ caddie was ready to pack the clubs up and call it a day.

“I was starting to think about my trip home and how long it was going to be,” Rodgers’ caddie Tom Maples told reporters. “On hole 11, I even walked out in front of him before he hit his tee shot and found a shady tree to stick the bag down and stick my knee down and bury my head in my towel.”

Rodgers was anything but ready to head home though and he proved it by nearly carding a double eagle on the Par 5 11th. His tap in eagle brought him within 6 as Bryan also added a birdie. After the duo each earned pars on the Par 3 13th, Rodgers decided to rocket boost himself back near the top of the leader board with a second eagle in three holes. Coupled with a bogey from Bryan, Rodgers’ second eagle set up what would be a wild finish.

“At that point, I knew I was back in it,” Rodgers said.

He picked up another shot on the 14th when Bryan made bogey. Each golfer earned a par on the 15th. Then, Rodgers showed crazy guts by knocking it stiff on the 215-yard Par 3 16th and making birdie.  A par on the 17th hole put him at 12-under and in a tie for the lead afterBryan gave yet another shot back.

Fans walking the grounds had found all they could have asked for as the leaders took to the 18th tee. Rodgers and Bryan were knotted at 12-under. Paul Haley, who played in the final group but felt no need to strap his scorecard to a rollercoster all day, had steadily found his way to 11-under. His bogey on 17 is the only thing that kept the three from all being even atop the final tee deck.

Then, the trio delivered pure theater on the Par 3 closing hole.

Haley stuck his tee shot to about 10 feet left of the pin. Rodgers threw his about 8 feet to the right of the stick.Bryan split the two and had about 7 feet back down the hill. All three would miss their putts, leaving Rodgers and Bryan to play 18 one more time. The groans of fans as they watched the birdie attempts role by the hole couldn’t mask the excitement they felt for the upcoming playoff.

Haley lead the playoff with a swing that looked nothing like the one he’d authored minutes earlier and his tee shot found the front bunker. Rodgers, with momentum on his side and seemingly endless guts, took aim and fired the ball to the center of the green. He gave Bryan no chance to extend the event with a par save by sealing shut one of the most dramatic Porter Cups in history with a birdie and a fist pump.

Rodgers, a 19-year-old freshman to be at Stanford, is the second straight Cardinal to win the Porter Cup. He follows up David Chung’s impressive victory in 2010.

More importantly, Rodgers makes his presence known as a fiery competitor with no quit. During the 9th and 10th holes, Rodgers looked destined to keep firing off wayward Titleists.  It takes more than just talent to come from 7 down on the back nine of a prestigious amateur golf event. It takes more than just pride to refuse to go away under such pressure and fire back with two eagles in three holes. Great performances like Rodgers’ can only be fueled by a special mix of fire, passion, guts, game and fearlessness.

Everybody knew Patrick Rodgers had game when he stepped to the first tee Wednesday morning. When he strolled off the 18th green for the second time Saturday, he’d also proved he had the heart to match.