Sunday, February 08, 2009

By Gary Van Sickle A John Rollins victory. The quiet former Canadian Open champion is the favorite to pull off his third-career victory today for a very simple reason. He's been eating the South Course alive the last two rounds. He shot an 8-under 64 there in the second round and backed it up with a solid 2-under 70 yesterday. He's 10 under on a South Course that is otherwise playing tough in the breezy, damp conditions -- the scoring average is over 75. On the other hand, he came from seven shots back to win his Canadian Open and the third-round leader on the PGA Tour wins less than half of the time. His three-shot edge over Camilo Villegas isn't much, but I have to like his chances. The duel continues. This tournament has been a two-man race since the second round when Villegas opened a big lead until Rollins, a late finisher Friday, nearly caught up with that 64. The only difference between them now is basically the ninth hole Saturday when Villegas thinned a bunker shot over the green and made double. Only three other players are within five shots -- Nick Watney, Luke Donald and Paul Goydos. It'll be Villegas vs. Rollins unless Rollins backs up, which is always possible for a leader in the spotlight, or someone else goes deep, which is not easy on the South. Comeback story. Keep an eye on Aaron Baddeley, who is eight shots back at 4 under par. His would be an unlikely win but it would be a fitting comeback story for his caddie, Pete Bender, who is one of the most respected caddies on tour. Bender's appearance this week is his first since enduring a year-long battle with throat cancer. It's great that he is back in golf.Dirtbag alert. Long Beach-area native Paul Goydos is one of the funniest guys on Tour and one of the smartest. Last year, he got laughs for wearing a Dirtbag logo cap -- that's the nickname of the Long Beach State University baseball team. A second-round 66 helped him get to six under this week. He'll start the final round six shots back and have a lot of locals rooting for him -- at least, the ones who aren't following Phil Mickelson. I was asking him a question about Padraig Harrington yesterday, trying to relate how Harrington is similarly normal, ego-less and considerate. I said, Padraig is actually kind of like you... "Except he's good?" Goydos interjected. Dirtbags rule.

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