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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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry