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GOLF: Rogers adapts game to overcome injury - Odessa American: Sports

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GOLF: Rogers adapts game to overcome injury

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Posted: Saturday, July 25, 2020 7:49 pm

E.V. Rogers had a good feeling as he walked off the 18th green following the completion of his second round Saturday.

And he had plenty of reasons to smile too.

Rogers (85-85—170) closed his round with a par to take a seven-shot lead into the final round of the Super Senior flight of the Men’s City Championship at Ratliff Ranch Golf Links. As he reflected on the end of his round, he said he’s just grateful to be in the position that he’s in.

“ You have no idea how much it means to me,” Rogers said. “I went from not being able to play to being able to compete again. That’s huge. I’ve been close several times to winning but I’m in position to win it this time. I’m very happy.”

The reason that Rogers felt that he wasn’t going to be able to play was due to an injury in his left shoulder over a decade ago. That ailment denied him the ability to swing a club from the right-hand side where he played golf all his life to that point.

He gave up the game believing he was done until a trip to the driving range with a borrowed left-handed driver from a friend changed his perspective. He discovered he could hit the ball from the left without bothering his shoulder, giving him another chance to continue playing the game he loved.

Despite being a natural left-hander, Rogers said that the feeling of swinging comfortably didn’t come overnight.

“ It was difficult,” he said. “I went back to a very basic golf swing and just kept practicing and continued to get better.”

Rogers added that process took over a year to get back to playing and about three to four years before he began to play competitively again.

He’s been off and running since then, putting together some high-quality shots. That was on full display on the par-3 16th hole, where he put his tee shot inside five feet from about 140 yards out.

There have been a lot of changes over the years in Rogers’ swing. However, there is one thing that has remained constant: his putting. Rogers still putts from the right hand side since it does not bother his damaged left shoulder.

He put it simply: “I was always a good putter right-handed so I didn’t see any reason to change it.”

Two steady rounds have put Rogers with a chance to capture that elusive city title that he’s come close to winning on a few separate occasions. He finished in third place last year behind Robert Dickman and eventual champion Gary Bittick.

Rogers said the course has been playing tough but fair the first two days and knows he can put together a solid last round to take the title.

“I haven’t been playing very consistent the last couple of days,” he said. “I’m not playing up to my level of what I usually play. But tomorrow is a different day and I anticipate playing better and I can win this thing.”

>> BIG SWING: After opening with an 81 Friday, Tony Mullins got off to a hot start and held on down the stretch to shoot a 1-under-par 71 to take a one-shot lead over Derrill Eubanks (78-75—153) in the Senior Flight. Mullins birdied four of his first five holes to jump out ahead early.

Gerald Steger (73-81—154) is another stroke back in third place, while first-round leader Damon Brumley (72-84—156) fell back and is tied for fourth with Richard Campbell (80-76—156).

>> CROWDED AT THE TOP: The leaderboard of the Championship Flight became even more crowded Saturday, thanks in large part to UTPB senior Austin Anderson. Anderson shot the low round of the day with a five-under 67 and is tied for the lead with Tyler Trotter (70-73—143) and defending City Champion Jaden Chavez (70-73—143).

First-round leader Sebastian Cruz (69-75—144) is one shot back after closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th, while Derrick Pursley (74-71—145) and Parker Beaty (73-72—145) are two shots behind.

Michael Hodges (73-73—146) and two-time champion Ciro Baeza (72-74—146) are both three shots back.

>> Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas

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