Rollins Rolls to BC Open Title

By Sports NetworkJuly 23, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 B.C. OpenVERONA, N.Y. -- With a scrambling par save at the 17th and a two-putt birdie at the 18th, John Rollins edged Bob May for a one-shot victory at the B.C. Open on Sunday.
 
Rollins and May closed with flawless rounds of 8-under 64 on a low-scoring day at Atunyote Golf Club.
 
Both players reached the par-5 18th green in two shots. May made his two-putt birdie first, then watched from the clubhouse porch as Rollins did the same to move one ahead.
 
There were still three groups to finish, but no one was within striking distance of Rollins, who ended at 19-under-par 269 for his first victory since winning the 2002 Bell Canadian Open.
 
'I'm in a little bit of shock right now,' admitted Rollins, who carded eight birdies in his final round. 'Obviously, to shoot 64 on Sunday and not make a bogey is pretty special anytime, especially when you can get a win out of it.'
 
Free of the back pain that plagued him for 2 1/2 years, May moved up from ninth place overnight with six birdies and an eagle at the par-5 12th.
 
The man who shot three straight rounds of 66 and lost in a playoff to Tiger Woods at the 2000 PGA Championship had a similar week here, opening with a 73 and then shooting 66-67-64 to get to 18-under-par 270.
 
'Unfortunately, I played so well I actually left some (shots) out there,' said May. 'I'm just happy to have my back back. I am able to swing a golf club again and do what I love.
 
'I'm happy. I went out and played a good, solid round of golf and was just one shot short.'
 
Japan's Shigeki Maruyama birdied the 18th to finish alone in third place at minus-17 after a round of 7-under 65. Omar Uresti was one of four players who shot a 64 and he shared fourth place with David Branshaw at 16 under.
 
There were low scores to be had on a perfect Sunday at Atunyote, which filled in for 35-year host En-Joie Golf Club after the Southern New York course was flooded by recent heavy rains.
 
Rollins took advantage of the scoring conditions early with three consecutive birdies beginning at the third hole.
 
He was 15 under around the turn and 18 under following another flurry of three straight birdies from the 12th, but Rollins didn't really win this tournament until the final two holes.
 
After finding a fairway bunker off the tee at the par-4 17th, he could only muster a shot into the heavy rough and well short of the green. But a good chip landed Rollins within 15 feet to set up a par-saving putt.
 
At the par-5 closing hole, Rollins went long off the tee and was 270 yards out. He landed his second shot on the green, where it trickled just onto the back fringe, and then putted within 6 feet.
 
The second putt was tricky, but Rollins found the center of the cup.
 
'Eighteen has been reachable all week,' he said. 'But to make that six-foot curler to win it...those last two putts were probably the best all day.'
 
His second PGA TOUR victory gave Rollins enough Ryder Cup points to move him into 10th place on the list.
 
With a showdown at the K Club looming just two months away and with point values doubled this year, it may be the most followed statistic on the PGA TOUR.
 
'I started the year off with a good start and fell into what a lot of guys fall into. They started watching the Ryder Cup points every week,' said Rollins, who also claimed $630,000 for his victory.
 
'Then all of a sudden I didn't play that well. I got away from watching and now all of a sudden I'm right back there again.'
 
Third round leader Gabriel Hjertstedt, the 1997 B.C. Open winner, managed only a 1-under 71 and led a group of six players who tied for sixth place at 15 under par.
 
Hjertstedt was joined there by Nicholas Thompson, who shot a 64, as well as Scott Gutschewski, Daisuke Maruyama, Matt Gogel and 1987 Masters champion Larry Mize.
 
Last year's winner, Jason Bohn, shared 12th place with Ryuji Imada and Paul Stankowski at minus-14.
 
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    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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    McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

    Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

    The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

    McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.