Rollins out to change past in final round of RTO
August 9, 2009
RENO – John Rollins has been a 54-hole leader five times in his PGA career and has zero wins to show for it.
Rollins, who finished second here last year, would like nothing more than to change that fact today entering the final round of the 11th annual Legends Reno-Tahoe Open at Montreux Golf & Country Club.
Rollins shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday to finish 54 holes at 199, four strokes ahead of Ryan Palmer, five ahead of Joe Ogilvie, six ahead of Martin Laird and seven ahead of Rocco Mediate. The 199 is four shots off the tournament record of 195 held by Vaughn Taylor in 2005.
Rollins started fast, but bogeys at Nos. 7 and 8 left him at even par after the front nine. He rebounded nicely on the back nine with an eagle at 11 and birdies at Nos. 10, 13 and 18.
“It was a nice way to finish the day,” Rollins said. “I told my caddie going down the 10th fairway, that we just needed to settle down and kind of right the ship and just try to get a good back nine and we’d be in position.
“It’s hard to … I guess I’ve just learned that you just play your own game. I think the few times that I’ve been there before you find yourself kind of watching the board maybe too much or trying to play a certain player that may be close to you starting the day. If you manage your game, or my game, and play the best I can, then I feel I should come out on top.”
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Rollins’ birdie on No. 13, a 355-yard par-4 was impressive. He hit driver along the left side, leaving himself a tough shot to a difficult flag. He said he didn’t know if he would take a lesser club off the tee today.
“Granted I made a great putt for birdie, so it made me look like a genius,” Rollins said. “The pin on that hole, I don’t know that you could hit any golf shot from any yardage and get it that close. I would have like to have been a little more right for a better angle into the green.”
Rollins, who has two PGA Tour wins on his resume, will be paired with Palmer. The duo are close friends, their wives are friends and they live about a mile apart in Colleyville, Texas. They even go to each other’s houses for kids birthday parties.
“I think we’ll have fun,” Rollins said. “We had breakfast this morning (Saturday). It’s kind of funny we’re going to be playing together in the final round. I think it’s fun to play with a guy you are comfortable being around.
“Coming down the stretch, depending on how the result is going to pan out, there may not be a lot of chatter going on the last nine holes. I think we’re going to have fun, and I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to going out and playing my game and see what happens.”
Palmer, who recorded his third round in the 60s (66), also is looking forward to today’s round.
“I think it will be nice playing with a friend,” Palmer said. “I know his caddie real well, too. It will be relaxing for both of us and hopefully the two of us can go out and play well, and whoever plays better will be the last man standing.”
With a four-shot bulge, even if Rollins shoots even-par 72, Palmer would have to shoot a 67 and the rest of the field would have to go even lower.
Palmer is certainly capable. On Saturday, he recorded five birdies on the front en route to a 31 and managed a 1-under 35 on the back.
“I’ve felt good all week and I just carried it over to today,” Palmer said. “I had a bunch of short birdie putts (on the front). I didn’t get ahead of myself, and I just kept hitting the front of the greens.
“I got a little loose on the back nine. I was disappointed with the way the day ended, but I couldn’t ask for a better spot to be in.”
Palmer hit a gap wedge to two feet on the first hole, a 413-yard par-4. He followed that with a pitching wedge to three feet on No. 2, a par-3. After a par at No. 3, Palmer birdied the par-5 fourth, getting up and down from a bunker. At No. 6, he hit a 50-degree wedge to six feet and sank the putt. On No. 9, he made a six-footer for birdie after reaching the 616-yard hole in two.
The most impressive birdie came at No. 13, a 355-yard par-4, when Palmer canned a 20-foot birdie putt.
Ogilvie has scored two shots better each day after opening with a 70. He is one of three players in LRTO history to shoot a 62, so he is capable of posting low scores. He was 3-under on each side of the course.
“I played a good, solid round,” Ogilvie said. “It could have been a 68. It could have been a 64. But 66 is good. I got a little more out of my round today. I made a couple of really long puts, which is nice.”
Ogilvie ranks 146th in the FedEx standings. He needs a couple of top-10s to possibly slip into the top-125 and make the four-week playoff. Ogilvie admitted being frustrated with his overall performance.
“It’s been frustrating because I’ve hit the ball so poorly,” he said. “Two weeks ago, I went to a fade and just committed to hitting a fade every shot. I’ve been playing a controlled duck hook, which is never good.
“I’m keeping the ball in front of me now. I’m not losing many shots, so that’s good. I think it’s going to bode well for me the next year. I talked to (hitting instructor) Bill Moretti over the phone again, and he kind of gave me a phone lesson. It’s a tough shot to get rid of.”