LRTO: Morning tee times pay off

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RENO - What a difference a morning tee time makes.

John Rollins fought the swirling winds on Thursday afternoon and shot a 2-under 70, despite hitting just eight fairways.

Rollins took advantage of calmer weather conditions Friday. He tied the tournament record with a 10-under 62 en route to the 36-hole lead at the 11th annual Legends Reno-Tahoe Open at Montreux Golf & Country Club.

Rollins leads by two shots over Shaun Micheel, who carded a 7-under 65 en route to a 36-hole total of 134.

It's the first time in his career that Rollins has led a PGA event after 36 holes, a span of 253 tournaments. He was second at last week's Buick Open at the halfway mark and finished second.

Rollins' round included eight birdies and an eagle on the par-5 ninth. He hit 12 of 14 fairways and needed just 27 putts on what are considered some of the toughest greens on tour.

"Yeah, it was just one of those days I guess," Rollins said. "I hit a lot of good shots obviously and made a lot of putts. That's really all it is. You just make putts. Again, I hit the ball really well and just managed to make the putts where, you know I'd say the last month or couple of months, the putts haven't really gone in for me.

"It was scoreable out there today. Greens have softened up some. I don't know if it's from the overnight rain or it's just from watering the greens. The winds were all over the place yesterday; swirling around, and my caddie and I are standing in a number of fairways where the wind would change two or three times before we hit a shot. You were in a guessing game yesterday."

The key to Rollins' round was a five-hole stretch (seventh through 11th) when he went 6-under par, including an eagle at the par-4 5th. Riley later matched that by going birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie (third through 7th). Riley was 7-under through seven holes and shot 27 on the front.

"You know, it was just one of those stretches where I really honestly wasn't thinking anything other than just keep hitting good shots," Rollins said. "It wasn't like I was out there scoreboard watching. It's only Friday. We still have two days to play.

"I felt very good with my swing, and I felt good on the greens. I just wanted to make sure I didn't get ahead of myself and start thinking about a score because that's the kiss of death."

Rollins cooled off after 11 with five straight pars before recording birdies on the last two holes.

"I felt I was still pretty aggressive," Rollins said. "I still hit good shots. It wasn't like I was all of a sudden hitting it 20, 25 feet from the hole. I had maybe 12 or 15 feet after that, and then on the little short par-4 13th I hit it in there probably 8 feet. On 15 I had it maybe 10 feet. I was still hitting drivers. I was sticking to my game plan that we had for the golf course."

Rollins' 62 tied the mark held by Bill Glasson (2005), Joe Ogilvie (2006) and McLachlin (2008).

Former champion Chris Riley (64), Robert Garrigus (67) and Marc Leishman (68) are at 136, four strokes out of the lead. At 137 is first-round leader Rod Pampling (70), Ryan Palmer (69), Troy Matteson (66), Vaughn Taylor (69), Rich Barcelo (69) and Jonathan Kaye (69). Another stroke back at 138 are defending champ Parker McLachlin (69), Ogilvie (68), Jeff Quinney (69), Rocco Mediate (68), and rookie Spencer Levin (70).

Micheel enjoyed a bogey free round with 11 pars and seven birdies. He hit 11 of 14 fairways, hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation and needed just 26 putts on the always tricky Montreux greens.

Micheel, who started on the back side, birdied Nos.10, 13 and 15, and followed that up with birdies on Nos. 1,4, 5 and 6.

"I played well," he said. "It was kind of a continuation, really, of what I was doing on the front nine. It's tricky around here. I hit a lot of fairways and gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities. I think I only missed two greens.

"All the other putts I was supposed to make, I made. The goal here is to win, right? You can't win it on Thursday or Friday; you can sure lose it. It was nice to have a good round and hit a lot of great shots."

Besides Rollins, former champion Riley made the most noise.

Riley shot a 9-under 27 on the front side, recording five birdies and two eagles, a chip-in on nine and a 14-foot putt on No. 4. It was the lowest nine-hole score on tour this year. On No. 9, he hit a 285-yard 3-wood to 24 feet on the back edge of the green.

Riley shot a 1-over 37 on the back side to finish with a 64, the second-best score of the day.

"I've never done that before," Riley said. "I've never shot 27 on the front nine. I don't know, what's the record? Walking to 10 you get a lot of thoughts in your head. It was interesting.

"I thought I could shoot 55 today, I was feeling that good. Then it's weird how your mind just turns on you. It was so easy and effortless."

Riley bogeyed Nos. 10 and 11, dropping to 7-under. He managed one birdie the rest of the way.

"The bogey on 10 I just misclubbed," he said. "I hit a 9-iron instead of an 8-iron into the green. On 11 I had a brain fart and three-putted.

"I told myself, 'I'm 7-under through 11 and just had to keep it going.' Anybody will take 7-under through 11."

Garrigus was 1-over through seven, but a chip-in eagle on the par-5 eighth and a birdie on No. 9 pushed him to 4-under. On his back nine, he birdied the first three holes and chipped in for eagle at the par-5 fourth to get to 6-under. He also recorded birdies at Nos. 6 and 8 to finish with a 67.

"Today's round was about the same as yesterday," Garrigus said. "I felt I could have squeezed five shots out of yesterday's round. I hit it really good. I missed a ton of putts."


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