Bubba Watson: The PGA TOUR’s resident long bomber eagles the 575-yard par-5 11th. Click here
John Rollins: One way to make birdie on the par-4 12th? Chip in from 27 feet. Click here
Vaughn Taylor: Taylor sticks his approach shot on the par-5 18th to set up an easy birdie. Click here
Carl Pettersson has joined Vaughn Taylor and Joe Durant at the top of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans leaderboard.
Pettersson and Taylor have each completed 11 holes this afternoon; the former starting on the front and the latter on the back nine. Neither has made a bogey at TPC Louisiana.
Durant is safely in the clubhouse.
John Rollins and Bubba Watson are also making moves this afternoon. Both are 4 under, Rollins through 12 holes and Watson through 10.
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
HUMBLE, Texas -- Yes, John Rollins has tickets. He’s going to the semifinals, but, no, he doesn’t know what he’ll do if he makes the Masters field and Virginia Commonwealth makes the NCAA finals.
And finally? He’s as surprised as anyone about the Rams. Didn’t even pick them in his own bracket.
"What does that tell you?" Rollins said. " You know, I mean, like you say, on Selection Sunday, you kind of understand where everybody came from, but, at the same time, you know, they've played great basketball. They beat quality teams and beat them easily.
"So, you know, you can argue until you're blue in the face both sides of the coin. I'm glad they got picked. The guys were excited. They weren't even watching the show from what I heard. They were all doing their own thing. Now they were getting text messages and phone calls, what's going on?
"You know, I think they've really used I think the negative comments to their advantage. They really used to it inspire them and really get them motivated to play."
They’ve also inspired Rollins, who, like so many other players in this field – 112 of the 144 to be exact – who need to win the Shell Houston Open to get one final invitation to the Masters. He’s off to a good start after an opening 5-under 67 at Redstone.
"I actually said that at the game against Kansas on Sunday, my caddy (Heath Holt) came and met me down there," Rollins said. "We're watching the game, and I was hoarse for like a day and a half after the game from all the screaming. This could be exactly what I needed for my golf game. I'm sitting here watching my school, they're beating Kansas, one of the best programs in the country and they beat them pretty easily.
"And I'm like this is -- this could be something that I need to kind of get a little bit of spark under me to get me going and, you know, just kind of maybe wake me up or whatever. To be in the same town is pretty ironic, pretty cool to do that for me to be able to play and them to play.
"So, you know, I'd like to be able to double-dip this week."
Rollins’ best finish at the Masters was a T20 in 2007. But even a really solid week here would be a boost for the VCU alum (class of ’97, Communications), who may have some of the Rams basketball fans following him Friday.
He’s made just three cuts in eight events this year, but things could be changing after some hard work with coach Pat O’Brien. Specifically, they’re trying to free up his putting stroke.
"I've always been sort of a I guess you would call it a hitter of putts, not really a smooth, like a Steve Stricker style, real smooth and rhythmic stroke like he's got," Rollins said. "We've really been working trying to get more into that mindset, trying to see the ball, you know, maybe rolling on the greens better, rolling in the hole kind of on a dying -- dying balls into the hole rather than being so aggressive like I've been in the past.
"It's been a little difficult. You know, we've done okay at times, but the consistency hasn't been there. I've devoted more time to it since it's been killing me over last year or so. So I've really devoted more time to it recently and starting to see some signs."
Kind of like VCU and those three-pointers hitting nothing but net.
Rollins teamed up with the school for a charity pro-am years ago and knows athletic director Norwood Teague well enough that he hit him up for Final Four tickets with a minute to go in the Kansas game. And coach Shaka Smart has come to Rollins’ event.
If he keeps up the current pace, it’ll be seriously tight timing to get to Saturday’s VCU-Butler semifinals since the course is thirtysomething miles – in Houston traffic – away from Reliant Stadium, but ... he’ll be there.
"I will be at the game," he said. "I'd like to play well, obviously be leading the golf tournament, but hopefully tee times won't interfere. Worse case I'll be coming in sideways for the second half. By the time I get there, maybe the traffic won't be as bad. I hope I keep playing well tomorrow and put myself in that later tee time for Saturday and just let everybody get there and get in their seats and I can just kind of stroll on in."
As for Monday’s finals?
"I'd like to be heading to Augusta, but, you know, we're obviously going to have to win here to do that," he said. " But if I don't and they make it there, you know -- it's the first time ever, so I kind of feel like I should be there.
"I've been the last -- I've been to the Kansas game. If I go to this game and they win, I kind of feel like I got to ride this out now. I don't want to break anything up, break any streak that they've got. I may. It would be fun to stick around and watch a National Championship game. But they got to get through Butler first."
So how does he size up the game?
"I really don't know much about Butler," he said. " I know they've got a great defense. If we can continue to shoot the 3-pointer the way we've shot the 3-pointer, I don't really know that anybody can beat us.
"Our defense is good. They're playing good. I think our key is still shooting the 3 well to open up the inside game for us. If we can do that, we're going to be alright."
VCU alum John Rollins and former Kentucky Wildcat Steve Flesch talk about their teams playing this week in the Final Four.
Despite a couple of afternoon charges, most notably from David Toms, John Rollins’ 7-under 63 stood up on the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club, where Rollins owns a one-shot lead after the first round.
Rollins was flawless on a day of flawless weather, making seven birdies and no bogeys after hitting a dozen fairways and 16 greens in regulation. Rollins also holed a shot from the bunker on No. 5 and at one point he made four straight birdies.
“The season I would say has been very inconsistent for me,” Rollins said. “Not really up to the standards that I set for myself.”
So Rollins had a long talk with his wife, Heather, during his last few weeks off after being eliminated from the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup following a final-round 79 at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Basically, the message was that if Rollins wanted to right his season -- he has just two top-10s -- he needed to put in the work. Watching the Ryder Cup, and not being a part of it, also spurred him on. The goal now is to not only win, but play his way onto the Presidents Cup team next year.
Thursday he took his first step toward doing that. -- Brian Wacker
Steve Marino was in the first group out Thursday morning and even though the conditions were difficult, he said, “somebody might shoot 5, 6, 7-under.”
That somebody turned out to be John Rollins, who opened with a bogey-free 63 that gave him the early clubhouse lead. Rollins missed just two fairways and two greens and closed with four straight bogeys over his last five holes.
Unlike Marino, though, Rollins has played plenty of golf at Sea Island. His coach, Todd Anderson, is the director of golf here. And while a lot of players are jockeying for position on the money list, Rollins has two different goals this week.
First, he’d like to win, obviously. “That’s our goal every week you play,” he said.
Second, he’d like to start playing his way onto next year’s Presidents Cup team.
“When I missed the BMW and had the four weeks off, my wife and I had a chance to sit down and talk about some things,” Rollins said. “She told me to make the team. Just practice harder, work harder. I expect a lot out of myself but sometimes don’t put the necessary effort in there to get it out of there.”
Those are pretty incriminating words but ones Rollins felt were needed.
“I don’t want it to sound like she was chewing me out, but it was sort of a little wake-up call,” Rollins said. “If you want to play good and make these teams, put the work in and get it done.”
By his own admission, and judging by his results, Rollins hasn’t exactly done that this year. While he was a winner on the PGA TOUR in 2009, he’s had just two top-10s this season. In his last start, at the Deutsche Bank Championship, Rollins was in contention until he imploded with a final-round 79.
That meant four weeks off for Rollins, during which time he watched the Ryder Cup.
“I think any time you watch those events, you always tell yourself when you’re not in it you want to be on it,” said Rollins, who twice in his career has finished just outside the top 10 in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup standings. “You want to be on the team and you want to be able to represent your country.” -- Brian Wacker
John Rollins is in danger of being eliminated from the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup. Luckily, he still has nine holes to turn things around.
Rollins started the final round at 10 under and was well within the cut line for the BMW Championship at No. 59 – a jump of 20 spots. Monday hasn’t been good to Rollins, though.
The three-time PGA TOUR champ opened with a string of three straight bogeys starting at No. 2 before stopping the bleeding with a birdie at the fifth. But he suffered a triple bogey at the par-5 seventh where he had to take a drop after losing his second shot and eventually three-putted from nine feet.
Now Rollins finds himself as the bubble boy for the BMW Championship, projected at No. 70.
Don’t look now but there are 19 players in double digits within four strokes of the lead held by John Rollins, who has birdied three of his first five holes.
Richard S. Johnson and Brandt Snedeker, the 2007 winner of the Wyndham Championship, are tied at 13 under.
Johnson actually made the turn in 29 but missed a 21-inch par putt at No. 10. He did bounce back with a birdie at the 11th and is 6 under through 12 holes.
As John Rollins noted, the early part of his round was "ugly" but that duckling turned into a swan as he played his final 11 holes in 7 under. The turnaround means that Rollins will enter the third round at 11 under and one shot off the lead held by Brandt Snedeker and Arjun Atwal.
Rollins played in the afternoon wave on Friday. So he was already behind the eight-ball when he teed off since Snedeker and Atwal had completed their rounds -- and two bogeys in his first five holes put him even farther back.
Not to mention, he broke his putter just before he teed off.
"It's tough, especially on a golf course where you know guys are shooting low numbers," Rollins said. "After shooting 6 under yesterday and you come out and I'm already 6 shots out of the lead before I even tee off, then I go out and I'm 2 over through like my first five holes. ... It's hard to sometimes stop and just be patient and tell yourself, you're okay, just settle down and I did that.
"I was a little frustrated at myself but I kind of had a little pep talk there on the par 5 on 15 and just told myself there's a lot of opportunities out here and just let it all come back to you. It did. Got a good round out of it."
The pep talk Rollins gave himself worked wonders. He birdied the 17th and 18th, then added two more at Nos. 1 and 2. The Virginian who now lives in Texas went on to shoot 30 on the front -- his second bogey-free nine of 5 under in 36 holes.
"I felt pretty good with the way I've been hitting ball," Rollins said. "So I think that was a big, big plus for me to slow down and be patient because I knew that my irons had been pretty good, my distance control has been pretty good so far. ...
“Just one of those things if you do that on the way this golf course is right now, if you get your distance control down on line, you're going to have a lot of close putts for birdie." -- Helen Ross
John Rollins has just joined the group at 11 under after posting a 65 that included a 13-footer on the eighth hole, his 17th of the day.
In his first 36 holes, Rollins has two bogey-free nines of 30. He shot 5 under on the back nine Thursday and the front nine on Friday. – Helen Ross