Rollins finishes the deal, wins RTO title
August 10, 2009
RENO – It took a late birdie for John Rollins to avoid another fourth-round demise.
Rollins, who started the day with a four-stroke lead and built it to six shots early in the final round, saw it whittled down to two shots before he birdied the 17th en route to a final-round 72 and a win at the 11th annual Legends Reno-Tahoe Open Sunday at Montreux Golf & Country Club.
The win, Rollins’ first since the 2006 BC Open and third overall, was worth $540,000 and earned him a full two-year exemption plus 250 FedEx points. It was the sixth consecutive year the LRTO winner shot in the 70s in the final round.
Rollins, who had failed to win in four previous attempts with a 54-hole lead, finished with a 17-under 271, three shots ahead of Jeff Quinney (66) and Martin Laird (69). Joe Ogilvie finished fourth at 13-under 275. Tied for fifth at 12-under 276 were Alex Cejka (67), Kevin Na (68) and Ryan Palmer (73), who started the day in second place.
“Anytime you win is great,” Rollins said. “Doesn’t matter if it’s one or 50 or I guess 60, however many Tiger (Woods) has. It’s always nice to win a golf tournament. I’m very happy right now. It’s hard to put into words. Like I said, it’s my third win. It does have a little better feel than the second because you keep validating yourself every time you win.
“I feel like the last few years I’ve let some tournaments get away. I’ve been close. I think I’ve had five or six second-place finishes over the last three years or so. So obviously I’m doing a lot of good things, but it’s tough to win out here. It’s hard to win any week, and when you do, that’s satisfying.”
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The 34-year-old Rollins claimed he didn’t really think about his past failures.
“You know, not really,” Rollins said. “If I did, I would say after I bogeyed 15. I told myself – I kind of kicked myself in the butt there when I bogeyed 15 and only had a two-shot lead. I told myself I wasn’t going to let the tournament get away from me.
“I feel at the Buick this year (at Torrey Pines), it was a tough course, but I felt I kind of let the tournament get away from me with a three-shot lead and five to play.”
Rollins made par on the par-3 16th, and then hit a great drive and approach shot on the par-5 17th. His approach shot was green high off the fringe, but in the short grass. Rollins used his putter and put it 2 feet away from the cup and tapped in for a birdie. He went on to par No. 18 to end a triumphant week.
Rollins, who has been bypassed for the President’s Cup and Ryder Cup before despite a high ranking, hopes he can make a late run and qualify on points or get selected as one of captain Fred Couples’ two bonus picks.
“When I started the year that was a goal of mine,” Rollins said. “The last couple of years I’ve been 11 and 12 with the Ryder Cup and President’s Cup and I’ve been overlooked both times. I would love to make a team dearly, whether it’s a pick or whether you make it outright.
“Granted it’s going to take a a big week next week at the PGA for points or things like that to have any chance. I don’t think he’s picking until after the first or second playoff event. So it does give me a little leeway to play well next weekend then possibly play good in the first two playoff events to catch (Fred) Couples’ eye.”
Both Laird and Quinney made nice charges.
Laird birdied Nos. 9, 10, 11 and 12 to get to 14-under, four shots off the pace and to move into second place all alone.
“There was a good stretch in the middle,” Laird said. “I just missed a couple of short putts there (16 and 17), just two pretty good birdie putts. It’s nice to birdie the last hole.”
Laird had a good opportunity for birdie on No. 17 when he hit a long iron green high on the 635-yard par-5. He elected to chip rather than putt from just off the green and left himself a 7-foot putt which he missed.
Quinney, who was several groups ahead of Rollins, registered birdies on Nos. 11, 12 and 13 to move to with four shots through. He got to within two at 14-under after registering a birdie on the par-5 17th.
Was Quinney aware of what was going on behind him, and did he scoreboard watch?
“I kind of experimented back and forth,” Quinney said. “I think I do better when I just stick to my own game and just try to make a birdie on every hole and keep going rather than sometimes you look there and you’re top-5 you just want to par to get in there.
“I was just focused on staying in the present with what I was doing. I pretty much though Rollins was running away with it. I didn’t know he’d made a couple of bogeys late.”
Quinney has played seven weeks straight after recovering from what turned out to be a herniated disc. He’s very tired, but obviously very happy about taking home $264,000.
“I was just really proud of what I did,” Quinney said. “It’s been a struggle with injuries this year and playing bad., a combination. Just hopefully I can finish the rest of the season with a bang.
“I was out for six weeks, I had to rehab and probably came back too soon and wasn’t ready. So now that I’ve played seven weeks in a row I kind of played my way into playing shape.”