By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- John Rollins knew the back nine at TPC Scottsdale was there for the taking. After all, both par 5s are reachable, the 16th was only playing 124 yards on Saturday and the 17th is a drivable par 4.
And Rollins, playing in the second group off the 10th tee, wasted little time taking advantage -- making the turn in 31 on the way to a third-round 65 that moved him to 8 under for the tournament.
"You can kind of make some hay on the back nine and I did that," Rollins acknowledged. "(That) just kind of got the round going. The front nine is obviously the tougher of the two nines this week. I played solid but I just seemed to struggle distance-wise on the front. ...
"The conditions were great. There was very minimal wind, and it's warmer today so the ball's going. The golf course has played firm and fast probably more than I've ever seen it in the past so it's been nice."
Rollins has also been playing nice-ly this year. He tied for 10th in his 2012 debut at the Sony Open in Hawaii and finished solo third last week at Torrey Pines. He's ranked eighth in the FedExCup, as a result.
Rollins credits a "come-to-Jesus meeting" with his caddy, sports psychologist Morris Pickens and his wife Heather as being instrumental in his early-season surge. Pickens had evaluated Rollins' stats and determined that he needed to put some more emphasis on his short game.
"(Morris) is really good with drills, really good with ways to practice -- not from a technical standpoint but from a mental and a quality standpoint," Rollins said. "Just saying I going to go out and work on my chipping for two hours doesn't necessarily mean you get anything done. So he put together a plan to challenge me with my practice in my chipping and wedge play."
The results in Rollins’ first three-and-a-half starts speak for themselves.
"My short game really has kind of been, even the 12 years I've been out here, has kind of been the missing link consistency-wise," Rollins said. "The weeks I play well are the weeks I typically chip and putt well. We really attacked my wedge play and putting and chipping and distance control from 125 yards and in. That was my main focus the last month of the offseason before I came to Hawaii.
"It's been a huge saving grace for me to come out and feel more comfortable to at least have the confidence that I can get the ball up and down -- where if I miss a fairway on a par 5 I can lay it up to a number and still make a birdie."