Who’s That Guy? Waltrip’s Rodriguez quick learner on links

Most great golfers start early. Like, really early.

Some parents get their kids out on the links at five-years-old, swinging clubs and sitting in their laps yearning to drive the golf cart.

Unlike those kids, Waltrip’s Christian Rodriguez picked up the sport as a freshman in high school.

“My coach was looking for guys to sign up for golf and I went for it,” he laughs. “I didn’t even have clubs.

“I started practicing at First Tee of Greater Houston with all these little kids,” he said. “I was a giant compared to these elementary school students, but we were all just picking up the sport.”

A year later, he was literally a scratch golfer.

Most golfers are so focused on the sport, they never leave the leave the links.

Rodriguez has been to regionals in cross-country; a two-time district champ in the 800 and 1600-meters in track; a two-year varsity basketball player and the two-time defending district golf champion.

Let’s just say the Southwestern University golf-signee is multi-talented.

“I really loved being involved in all sports, but I love golf for several reasons,” he said. “I love the adversity of it. Sometimes you are hitting the ball well. Other times you are thinking, ‘what’s going on here.’

“I love to use my imagination on the course. I love creating shots and shaping the ball.”

He also loves to catch people by surprise. He’s well aware that Houston ISD is not known as a golf hotbed. The competition is not overwhelmingly challenging, but he holds his own going up against the traditional powers.

“I like being the underdog,” he said. “I show up and I know the other golfers are thinking, ‘who is this guy.’ They’ve never heard of my school. Then the see how legit I am.”

Rodriguez reached the Class 5A State Golf Tourney this week as an individual, finishing 24th overall.

“I came in prepared,” he said. “I had a slow start on the first day with a 78. I knew that wasn’t going to cut it. I came back on Day 2 at shot a 74. I know I left a lot of shots out there, but it was a great experience.”

With his relationship at First Tee, Rodriguez now mentors youth golfers, where he learned the game. He was selected to play in an official PGA Tour Champions Event in the 2018 PURE Insurance Championship Impacting the First Tee in Pebble Beach, California last September.

“It was amazing,” he said. “I was flown out there and the people I met were unbelievable. I got to meet Astros’ owner Jim Crane and we talked some ball.”

As he wrapped up his high school career, now Rodriguez looks to the future.

“I’ll be playing college golf next year, but my ultimate goal is to play professionally,” he said. “I got a late start. I became a scratch golfer in a year. I have some upside and I’m a hard worker. Now it becomes mental and I’m prepared for it.”

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