RENO, Nev.(AP) Like the five times before when he led after three rounds, John Rollins looked as if he might squander a chance for his third PGA Tour victory when he bogeyed three of four holes late in the Legends Reno-Tahoe Open.
But this time, the 34-year-old Virginian righted the ship, made a birdie on the 636-yard, par-5 17th and hung on for an even-par 72 and a three-stroke victory Sunday at the Montreux Golf and Country Club course on the edge of the Sierra Nevada.
Rollins, who tied the course record with a second-round 62 and led by six strokes at the turn Sunday, offset an early double bogey with a chip-in eagle at the par-5 11th. But that’s when the trouble began, with bogeys on Nos. 12, 13 and 15.
“It was a hang-on kind of day. I’m proud I managed to come out on top,” said Rollins, who tied for second at Reno last year. “I had to battle a lot of emotions.”
He finished at 17-under 271.
“After I bogeyed 15, I sort of kicked myself in the butt and told myself I’m not going to let this tournament get away from me,” he said. “Luckily, we ran out of holes and we came out on top.”
Martin Laird made a 5-foot birdie putt on the 18th to shoot a 66 and tie for second with Jeff Quinney, who also shot a 66 on the strength of six birdies. Joe Ogilvie (71) was fourth at 13 under.
“It’s nice to birdie the last,” Laird said. “The difference between (second and third) is a whole bunch of money and a whole bunch of FedExCup points.”
Quinney said it was some of the best golf he has played since a six-week layoff in the spring because of a herniated disk.
“I was just focused and staying in the present with what I was doing and I pretty much thought Rollins was running away with it,” he said. “I didn’t know he made a couple of bogeys late.”
Ryan Palmer, who started the day four off the pace in the final group with his friend Rollins, had four bogeys and two birdies on the front nine. He shot a 73 to join Alex Cejka (67) and Kevin Na (68) at 12 under.
Rod Pampling finished another stroke back after a 67 on Sunday that included an eagle on the par-5 11th, where he holed out from a bunker in the third round for a quadruple-bogey 9.
Rollins, who won the 2002 Canadian Open and 2006 B.C. Open, was the runner-up earlier this year at the Buick Invitational and Honda Classic. The $540,000 winner’s check pushed his season earnings beyond the $2 million mark for only the second time in nine years on tour for a career total of more than $12 million.
Rollins sank an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-3 second hole, but he double bogeyed the par-5 fourth after he had to take a penalty stroke for an unplayable lie in the right rough off the tee. He chipped within 3 feet from 44 yards out on the 616-yard, par-5 fifth and made the birdie putt to make the turn at 36.
“I was relieved to get off the front nine even par,” Rollins said.
On the 584-yard 11th, he drove 351 yards down the right side of the fairway, hit his approach 212 yards to just short of the green and chipped in from nearly 40 feet for the eagle that pushed him to 19 under.
“Once that happened you kind of feel like, `Well now, we’re OK. Let’s settle down and let’s finish this thing off,”’ Rollins said.
But he followed that with consecutive bogeys, hitting short in a bunker on the par-3 12th and missing a 13-foot put for par, then hitting his approach over the green on the par-4 13th before two-putting from 9 feet.
“I decided to make it interesting again,” he said.
He hit another drive 348 yards on the 477-yard, par-4 15th but his second shot came up short in a deep bunker on the short side and his next went 25 feet past the hole before he two-putted again for “another silly bogey” to drop to 16 under – ahead by only two – with three holes to play.
Rollins hit over a pond to 16 feet on the par-3 16th, but his birdie try slid just past the left edge of the hole. After a 10-minute wait on the tee, he drove 333 yards in the middle of the par-5 17th. His second shot landed on the left fringe 34 feet from the hole to set up a two-putt birdie that gave him a three-stroke lead.
“That was much more comfortable than going to 18 ahead by only one shot or even tied,” he said.
His approach to the par-4 18th landed 20 feet right of the green in the rough, but he chipped to just inside 3 feet and made the putt for par.