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Butler graduate Rodgers guides Carnegie Mellon women’s golf team to Division III championship

Another title for Tartans

PITTSBURGH — If you can’t coach a team to a national championship one week, do it the next.

Butler graduate and Carneghie Mellon University women’s golf coach Dan Rodgers, center, celebrates with his team after the Tartans won the NCAA Division III national championship on Friday in Kentucky. (Photo by Jimmy Naprstek/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

It worked for Butler graduate and Carnegie Mellon University men’s and women’s golf coach Dan Rodgers.

Last year, Rodgers guided the Tartans men’s team to the university’s first-ever national title in any sport. CMU appeared primed for a repeat of that title this season, only to lose by a stroke to Methodist at the national tourney on May 17.

Brian Xu sank a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 18, appearing to send CMU into a playoff for the championship. But Methodist’s Cooper Hrabak sank a 16-foot birdie putt on 18 to give his team the title.

“That’s the way it went down,” Rodgers said. “That one hurt a little bit.”

The pain didn’t last long.

Rodgers has been head coach of CMU’s men’s golf team since the 2016-17 season. The women’s team began in 2014-15 and he has been that program’s only head coach. The Tartan women have been to the NCAA Championships five times in the past seven years, placing fourth the last two years and finishing second in 2021.

“I felt like we had a chance this year,” Rodgers said. “Our women won six tournaments during the season and were ranked No. 1 in the country most of the year. We’ve been on quite a roll.”

They stayed on a roll, taking a two-stroke lead into the final round of the NCAA Division III Women’s Golf Tournament on Friday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky. The Tartans widened that lead by 10 strokes during that final round, carding an 8-over-par 1,187 in the 72-hole tourney. CMU finished 12 strokes ahead of runner-up Emory in the 29-team event.

The championship marked CMU’s first-ever national title in any women’s sport.

“Our women had to deal with rain delays and darkness to get these four rounds in,” Rodgers said. “Rain prevented us from starting our second round until late Wednesday afternoon. We had to start out early on Thursday to finish that round, then got a 90-minute break before playing our third round.

“Our golfers were on the course all day Thursday and never lost focus. This was a very driven group. They went out there Friday and brought it home.

“It’s definitely cool, being the first coach at the school to win men’s and women’s national titles. It’s fun, dealing with so many smart, talented and quality young adults. My wife’s family is here. My family is here. We have no intention of going anywhere else,” Rodgers added.

CMU athletic director Josh Centor said in a prepared statement: “It was such a privilege to watch our women compete and bring home the national championship , it’s a moment none of us will ever forget .... That will forever be cemented in CMU history.”

Rodgers was a three-year letterman and two-year captain of the Slippery Rock University golf team during his years in college. His family currently lives in Murrysville.

“I’m grateful to the (Carnegie Mellon) University for recognizing the importance of athletics and the support that’s thrown our way,” Rodgers said. “It’s just a lot of fun being here.”

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