Officer proud of Ryder Cup role, regardless of outcome

By Jason SobelOctober 5, 2012, 5:48 pm

The man responsible for Europe retaining the Ryder Cup wasn’t one of the team’s star players.

In fact, he calls himself “a bad recreational golfer.”

And he’s not even European.

While much of the credit for Europe’s 14½-to-13½ victory over the U.S. has been heaped upon captain Jose Maria Olazabal for the way he managed the roster and Ian Poulter for his dominating performance and Justin Rose for his clutch putting and Martin Kaymer for winning the clinching point, the man who initiated one of the greatest Sunday rallies in Ryder Cup history didn’t even get to bask in the champagne-soaked afterglow of the triumph.

Meet Patrick Rollins, the now-famous Lombard (Ill.) Police Department deputy chief whose expeditious driving skills saved Rory McIlroy from a lifetime of embarrassment and indirectly led to Europe’s win.

The story is already the stuff of legend. The world’s No. 1-ranked player confused his 11:25 CT tee time for one an hour later because he saw it in Eastern Time on his hotel television. Upon being notified that he was soon on the tee, McIlroy rushed to the lobby of the Westin Lombard, where Rollins was about to leave for a command briefing at Medinah Country Club.

Taking the motto “to protect and serve” quite literally, Rollins told McIlroy he could hitch a ride to the course. He turned on the sirens, radioed to on-site officials that he had a “VIP” on board and like Elwood and Jake in another Chicago cruiser long ago, the two of 'em hit it.

Of course, he could have driven him to Cog Hill. Or Wrigley Field. Or Canada.

Anywhere else and McIlroy wouldn’t have beaten Keegan Bradley, 2 and 1. Anywhere else and he wouldn’t have stood as the differential in a one-point victory. Anywhere else and Rollins could have been known forever as a Great American Hero, mentioned in the same breath with Paul Azinger and Ben Crenshaw as men who led the red, white and blue to Ryder Cup glory.

He never even considered it.

“I would have done the same thing for an American player,” explains Rollins, now in his 22nd year on the job. “We were their hosts; they stayed in our community. The Ryder Cup was to be played on the course, not on the road.”

How important was Rollins to Europe's charge? According to PGA of America managing director of tournaments Kerry Haigh, the captains' agreement stated that any player five minutes late for his tee time would be penalized with loss of hole. After five more minutes, the result would be loss of match. Just a few wrong turns through the Windy City streets and Rollins could have earned a full point for the U.S. – more than Tiger Woods claimed for the week.

Instead, a man whose golf is confined to charity scrambles and admits his results are “dependent on my fellow teammates” is shouldering as much blame in some circles as Steve Stricker or Jim Furyk for losing crucial matches late in the day.

“Oh, absolutely. Everybody is piling on – and rightfully so,” Rollins says with a laugh. “I’ve gotten plenty of jokes and cartoons at my desk. I’ve gotten emails, phone calls, comments.”

Ask the deputy chief if he’s a Chicago Cubs fan and he immediately laughs and acknowledges that he is, but lightheartedly implores the questioner, “Don’t go there.”

Nine years ago, with the perennial lovable losers leading 3-0 in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, a fan named Steve Bartman tried to catch a foul ball down the left-field line, disrupting a potential catch by Moises Alou. Given new life, the Florida Marlins scored eight runs in the inning, winning that game and later taking Game 7 to reach the World Series.

In Chicago, the comparisons may come easy, but Rollins contends that his influence on the home team’s loss doesn’t make him Bartman 2.0.

“I didn’t interfere with any play on the course,” he says. “The comparisons are fun in jest, but it’s not a true comparison.”

Then again, the deputy chief isn’t taking any credit for helping Europe, either.

“My part just happened to be transporting the No. 1 golfer up to the course,” he says. “I didn’t drive or putt for Rory. They won it themselves on the course.”

In the hours after Europe’s historic come-from-behind victory, Rollins was relieved to hear McIlroy refer to the “state trooper” who chauffeured him to Medinah that morning – an allusion that seemingly would throw everyone off the scent of who actually helped out.

Soon enough, though, Rollins’ name surfaced. As a result, he could now probably stay for free in England’s Buckingham Palace, drink all the Guinness he could handle in Ireland and dance the cha-cha with beautiful women throughout Spain. None of it, though, can beat the one thing his time in the spotlight has garnered which most self-diagnosed bad recreational golfers don’t have.

“I have a golf story to tell now,” he says. “I don’t have a hole-in-one. I didn’t chip in or make a long putt. But for me, this is a memory that I’m very proud of. I’m proud to be part of the Medinah heritage at the Ryder Cup.”

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Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

“Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.


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The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

“He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 21, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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Woods happy to help Furyk at Ryder Cup

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 6:58 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods didn't hesitate when Jim Furyk asked him to become a vice captain at the upcoming Ryder Cup.

Woods said Wednesday that Furyk asked he and Steve Stricker “a while ago” whether they were interested in being assistants in Paris as the Americans try to win a Ryder Cup on foreign soil for the first time in 25 years.

“He’s one of my best friends,” Woods said of Furyk, “and whatever he wants, whatever he needs, I’m there to help him. We’re worked well the last couple of years in the cups together.”


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Though Woods has said that he wants to be a playing vice captain, he has been an assistant at each of the past two international team competitions.

Furyk, Woods and Stricker were all assistants at Hazeltine, where the U.S. won in a rout.

“Jim is very detailed, very smart, very analytical, and he’s just a fantastic leader,” Woods said. “For him to ask Stricks and I together, it will be special for both of us.”

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Woods to hit '4 or 5' drivers each day at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 6:25 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Those hoping Tiger Woods will wield the driver early and often this week at PGA National likely will be disappointed.

Depending on wind direction, he said he will only hit “four or five” drivers each round.

During Wednesday’s pro-am, Woods hit driver on six holes. He found two fairways with the big stick and found the right rough four times, though a few of those misses were only a few yards off the fairway.


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In two starts this year, Woods has struggled mightily with every club off the tee, but driver has been especially troublesome. He has found only 36 percent of the fairways so far (30 of 84).

The Champion Course here is a par 70, with water and bunkers often lining the fairways. Putting the ball in play off the tee will be at a premium, and so Woods opted for a low, penetrating 2-iron six times in the pro-am.

Woods said he did not make any equipment changes following the missed cut at Riviera.