Rookies Oliver Goss and Patrick Rodgers make noise in their second pro tournament

When Oliver Goss arrived at Congressional Country Club on Thursday for the Quicken Loans National, he couldn’t even get into the clubhouse, at least not at first. An official stationed outside didn’t recognize Goss, who turned professional two weeks ago, and it took some negotiating before the 20-year-old Australian finally gained entry.

One day later, Goss became the talk of the place after firing a 5-under-par 66 that moved him into a tie for first. Goss’s bogey-free round included three birdies over six holes on the back nine.

“The security guy was like, ‘Hey, where’s your credential? I said, ‘I don’t have a credential, but I’m a player. I’ve got an exemption,’ ” said Goss, who is 6 under for the tournament. “And he said, ‘Well, I can’t let you in.’ I was like, ‘I’m a player though,’ so it still wasn’t good enough for him, which shows how good security is around here.”

Goss’s round Friday began with a four-foot birdie putt at the par-4 first hole, where his playing partner and college rival Patrick Rodgers made a 13-foot putt for birdie. Goss is the all-time leader in career stroke average at Tennessee, competing for two years in Knoxville before relinquishing his amateur status.

Rodgers, meanwhile, finished first in career stroke average and is tied with Tiger Woods for career wins after three years at Stanford. The native of Avon, Ind., is 2 under and, like Goss, playing in his second pro event.

Goss “played awesome,” Rodgers said. “He was always teeing off in front of me and just striping it right down the middle, so it was hard to follow. He played great golf, and definitely when somebody’s playing well in the group, it helps the momentum of everybody.”

The only blemish on Rodgers’s card came at the par-4 18th. After landing his approach within five feet, Rodgers two-putted for bogey. Moments earlier, Goss had cleaned up his par putt that settled less than a foot from the hole on his birdie try from inside 30 feet.

In two rounds, Goss has made nine birdies, tied for third in the tournament. He’s also third in driving distance and in the first round launched a tee shot 365 yards, the longest of any player over the first two days.

Goss’s short game isn’t too shabby either. He needed only 27 putts and hit 14 greens in the second round. For the tournament, Goss is hitting 78 percent of greens in regulation, which is tied for sixth.

“It certainly helps a lot out here,” Goss said. “The rough around the greens is so thick, and if you can get it anywhere near the green, you’re [still] kind of struggling to get up and down. I feel really great about my game.”

Earlier this week, Goss and his girlfriend went to the Mall, and Goss posted images on Twitter, remarking how much they enjoyed the sites.

“That was incredible,” Goss said. “You see the monuments on TV, and you’re like, that’s pretty cool. Once you go there, it’s such a different experience. It’s so surreal. They are just ginormous, those things. It was great to get a piece of history of the country.”

Gene Wang is a sports reporter covering many local and national beats, including Navy football, the Capitals, Wizards, Nationals, women’s basketball, auto racing, boxing and golf. He joined The Washington Post sports department in 1990 as a member of the high school staff and worked as a copy editor and assignment editor for almost 19 years.
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