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SMI News - John Rollins Wins 2006 BC Open

July 23, 2006

PGATOUR.COM

John Rollins

VERONA, N.Y. -- John Rollins was cool to the finish.

Rollins rolled in a 5-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday to complete a closing 64 and edge Bob May by one shot for the title at the final B.C. Open.

After ignoring the leaderboard all day, Rollins paused before he stood over that putt at No. 18 to glance skyward. He knew he was in contention for the title that had eluded him last year on the final hole. He just had to know where he stood.

"I knew it was a big putt, but I didn't know how big at the time," said Rollins, who finished at 19-under 269. "I had to take a look just to see how important it was, if I had to make it to get in a playoff, if I had to make to win.

"It was not the easiest of putts to have when you need to make one to win," said Rollins who won $540,000 to move past $1.2 million for the season. "I just stepped up, told myself I'd made a 1,000 of them or more in my career, and rolled it in."

It was the second career victory on the PGA TOUR for Rollins, who won the 2002 Canadian Open. He nearly had another, finishing in a tie for second, one shot behind Jason Bohn at last year's B.C. Open.

"It's nice to come back when you're so close and feel like you did everything except win," Rollins said. "Jason makes that clutch putt like I did this year on 18 to knock a bunch of us out of a playoff. To play that well and come up short, it's a nice way to come back. It's a big relief.

"It's not like a one-time fluke anymore. I've got that out of my own mind, if it was there or if it was on anybody else's mind."

The victory also moved Rollins into 10th place in the Ryder Cup standings with a month to go before the team is selected.

"It would mean a lot to me to go represent the team in Ireland," Rollins said.

May, who has battled back problems for nearly three years and is best known for his playoff loss to Tiger Woods at the 2000 PGA Championship, finished second for the third time in his career.

At the par-5 final hole, May hit a 3-wood from 265 yards to within 30 feet of the pin, leaving him a chance at eagle. But his putt rolled about 15 inches past the cup and he settled for birdie and a tie for the lead.

Moments later, Rollins won it with his clutch putt, which broke slightly left to right.

May was far from dismayed.

"I'm just so pleased," said May, who made a stirring rally after opening the tournament with a 1-over 73. "I spent the last 2 1/2 years not playing golf at all."

May hurt his back on the final hole of the 2003 EDS Byron Nelson Championship, and doctors finally discovered that his spinal nerve canal was small at birth. So when he was diagnosed with bulging discs in his back, the pain skyrocketed.

"I had no feeling," said May, who underwent surgery in April 2004 and was bedridden for 10 weeks. "I didn't know if I would ever play the game again."

The 31-year-old Rollins, in his sixth year on the PGA TOUR, made four birdies on the front side and three straight on the back to surge past third-round leader Gabriel Hjertstedt (71), who finished tied for sixth at 15 under.

Shigeki Maruyama rallied with a 65 to finish third at 17-under 271, his best finish of the season. Omar Uresti (64) tied David Branshaw (69) of nearby Oswego, N.Y., for fourth at 272.

Rollins won it with his putter, carding 10 1-putt greens. And he hit 10 of his first 11 fairways and made 12 of his first 14 greens in regulation on a sun-splashed day that was in stark contrast to the soggy third round.

But May never went away. He had three birdies on the front side, made an 18-foot eagle putt from the fringe at the par-5 12th hole to get to 16 under, then took a one-shot lead over Hjertstedt and Rollins with a birdie on the next hole.

Rollins birdied Nos. 12 and 13 to tie May at 17 under, and Hjertstedt flubbed his third shot from the rough behind the green at the par-4 10th hole to drop him into a four-way tie for second, two shots behind.

Moments after Rollins hit a 9-iron to 6 feet and made birdie at 14 to get to 18 under, Hjertstedt failed to take advantage of the par-5 12th hole, which played easiest on the day, yielding 43 birdies, one eagle and 22 pars. His second shot bounded way left of the green, and he two-putted for par. A bogey at 14 doomed him.

Rollins' roll ended at the par-4 No. 17. Nursing a one-shot lead over May, he drove a fairway bunker and his second shot was short of the green. But he chipped to 10 feet and managed to save par with another clutch putt.

Divots: Bohn, who opted to defend his B.C. Open title instead of playing the British Open, shot a 66 to finish at 14 under.

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David Maraghy 804.874.0835