Rollins gets last spot in field at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
John Rollins was ready to caddie in the first round when he found out he was in the field
February 07, 2019
By Jim McCabe, PGATOUR.COM
- John Rollins has played in just 24 TOUR events since losing his full exempt status following the 2014 season. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Thursday morning was supposed to bring an early wake-up call for John Rollins here at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Just not at 5:30.
It was also supposed to bring an 18-hole walk inside the ropes, but at Spyglass Hill Golf Club, not Pebble Beach Golf Links. Oh, and he was supposed to be a caddie, not a competitor.
The fact that it was all turned upside-down and Rollins was hitting golf balls for the first time in more than a week and competing in a PGA TOUR tournament for the first time since last August was as improbable an occurrence as he has ever been part of. “Crazy. What a roller-coaster day,” said Rollins, who at 43 has played in just 24 PGA TOUR tournaments since losing his full exempt status following the 2014 season.
But if you think that accepting the spot in the field at 5:30 a.m. – about three hours before his tee time, by the way – was an easy one, think again. Fact is, “I had to really think about it. I asked myself, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’ Hunter (Mahan) is my friend and I was here to caddie for him, so I called him. Hunter (whose tee time was 10:01) and his wife, Kandi were more than gracious. Hunter said, ‘There’s a reason you’re here, so go and enjoy.’ ”
Rollins laughed, because “I had done absolutely no prep work” back home in the Dallas area, but he took Mahan’s advice. He did enjoy himself and was overall pleased with his round of 1-over 73 at Pebble Beach – two bogeys and one lone birdie, at the par-4 11th. “I didn’t play terribly. Actually, I was OK, everything considered.”
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He played in just nine PGA TOUR tournaments last year and has made just eight cuts in limited appearances the last three seasons. So, there’s no wonder Rollins’ name was well down the list of alternates when he came here to caddie for Mahan. “I looked, just for the heck of it at the beginning of the week,” said Rollins, “but I was outside the top 20.”
What he didn’t anticipate was the sequence of events. Most of those names ahead of him, for instance, were already committed to the Web.com Tour tournament in Panama or the PGA TOUR Champions Oasis Championship in Boca Raton, Fla., or confirmed they couldn’t fly to Pebble Beach in time. When Tommy Gainey had connecting flight problems and had to withdraw, Rollins’ name was called.
“I looked at my phone and saw PGA TOUR headquarters and I thought, ‘What would the PGA TOUR be calling me at 5:30 for?”
To find a caddie, Rollins got in touch with Daniel Chopra who provided the phone number of Kevin Hanssen, lead instructor at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy. Hanssen worked with Rollins last fall here at Pebble Beach, so it provided to be a seamless fit.
As for being thrust inside the ropes with little preparation, Rollins thought it proved one thing. “My heart is still in the game. I know that and I know the success I’ve had out here.”