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SMI News - Rollins is edged in playoff at Bob Hope Chrysler Classic

Jan. 21, 2007

John Rollins

THOUSAND PALMS, Calif. (AP) -- Charley Hoffman was the last man standing on a wind-swept day in the desert.

At the end of a long, gusty Sunday in the weather-plagued Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Hoffman won his first PGA TOUR title by ramming in a 4-foot birdie putt to beat John Rollins on the first playoff hole.

"Definitely the survivor. It was brutal out there, probably the hardest conditions I've played in, for sure," Hoffman said after playing 91 holes over a five-day stretch.

The 30-year-old Hoffman birdied No. 17, eagled the 18th in regulation, then birdied the 18th in the playoff. He closed with a 1-under 71 on The Classic Club course to match Rollins (73) at 17-under 343.

Others had their problems on a day when the wind gusted to 40 mph. Phil Mickelson hit three balls into the water in a three-hole stretch. With two double bogeys, five bogeys and three birdies on his card, the two-time Masters champion, 2005 PGA Championship winner and two-time Hope Classic winner finished with a 78 that left him tied for 45th at 7 under.

Rollins tied Hoffman with a birdie on the final hole of regulation, then his shot into a fairway bunker on the extra hole cost him.

His third shot left him 30 feet from the pin, with Hoffman 37 feet away in two. Hoffman lagged up short, Rollins' try for birdie was left of the cup, then Hoffman sank his to end it.

Although the wind calmed a bit late in the day, it made club selection a guessing game and merely standing over putts a challenge for most of the round. Players' pant legs whipped back and forth and they tried to steady themselves, and sometimes the gusts even rocked the ball on the green.

The wind churned the small lakes around the course, stirred up grit from the adjacent desert and sent it swirling over much of the course.

Asked if he had ever played in similar conditions, Hoffman grinned and said, "Usually I go inside when it's blowing this hard."

Rollins, who spent some 6 hours, 20 minutes on the course during the final round, said, "It feels like we played 36 today. It seems forever ago that we teed off."

The players spent a lot of time setting up for shots, then backing off.

"You're standing over putts and the wind is blowing and you're worried about the ball moving, or you're not quite steady over a shot," Rollins said. "Or you doubt your yardage or what kind of club you're going to use. So you just take your time and make sure you're hitting the right shot, and you just have to back off."

Hoffman, in the next-to-last group, put the pressure on when he hit his second shot within 11 feet of the pin on the par-5, 564-yard 18th, then rolled in the putt for an eagle to take the lead.

With Hoffman waiting and watching, Rollins, in the last threesome with Justin Rose and Lucas Glover, missed a long try for eagle but made the short birdie putt to tie.

Rollins’ second place finish vaulted him from 27th to 4th in the Fed Ex Cup Standings points with 3,172 points. The 2006 BC Open Champion currently has a 70.09% greens in regulation percentage.

Weather for the tournament in the desert resort area usually is sunny and mild, but this year's Hope had the start of play delayed by a half-hour to an hour two days because of frost on the courses, and Friday's round was cold and wind-blown, with temperatures dipping into the 40s.

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David Maraghy 804.874.0835