Q and A: John Rollins
Question: How did you get started on golf? Did you play other sports? How good were you?
John Rollins: I got started in golf through my dad. He cut down some clubs so I could play. We would take trips to Myrtle Beach and he would take me out. I got more serious later on, when I was 12. My dad would drop my friends and I off at a nine-hole course and left us there all day. Some days we would play 54 holes.
My dad was a good player before he decided to have me. He was a scratch golfer, but when I was born, he didn't play for five years. He still loves it and every now and then, he may make reference to how far he could hit it.
I did play other sports, baseball, basketball, I played everything. I was outdoors all the time. I was pretty good at other sports and could pick them up pretty easily. Baseball was my true love. I played catcher and outfield. I thought baseball was going to be my pursuit. I was a big Dale Murphy fan.
Q: How would you describe Virginia as a golf state?
JR: I think Virginia is a great golf state. There are some really great courses that are unique. We have a great mix of courses, some with a lot of trees, some with hills, some mountain courses. Virginia also has some really classic courses that have great tradition. Growing up and learning the game on Virginia courses prepared me to adapt to any type of course.
Q: What was winning back-to-back Virginia State Amateur Championships like?
JR: Just to win a tournament is awesome. It's a great feeling. A rush. But to win a tournament back-to-back, you couldn't really ask for anything better.
I became a part of history when I won the state amateur back-to-back. Only four guys including myself since World War II had done it—Curtis Strange, Vinny Giles and Lanny Wadkins. Those are three pretty good guys to have ahead of you. To have Lanny Wadkins present me the trophy was an honor. It was the crowning moment of my career at that time.
Anytime you win at any level, it builds your confidence and it does validate that "hey, I'm pretty good. I might be able to do this."
Q: What was the first thing you did after you earned your PGA Tour card in 1999?
JR: I popped open a cold beverage. It was a big celebration. Something you dream of. All my life, I watched golf on TV, The Masters and all the players. All of a sudden, it's a reality. I'm going to be one of those players. I was so excited. My family and friends were there to celebrate it with me.
Q: Did winning in 2002 at the Bell Canadian Open surprise you since you won in only your second year on the PGA Tour?
JR: I wasn't surprised that I won, but I was surprised that I won so soon. I felt I had the game to compete and win. But I guess it was my time. I did a lot of good things that week that you have to do to win.
Q: Where does head-to-head against Tiger Woods in 2004 rank as a highlight in your career?
JR: I felt like I let him off the hook a little bit, but playing against him head-to-head was awesome. I loved it. I loved every shot of it. It was a great experience to watch him. To be able to watch the best player in the world work his way around the course. It was an incredible experience.
I had him down the whole day. But his experience level was so much better than mine. He did what champions do. He found a way to win on the last hole.
Q: What are your strengths? What do you need to improve on?
JR: After this year, granted it was a great year, statistically I needed to improve my iron game. I obviously want to also get better with putter and you can never up and down too many times. But looking back, my iron game was my weak link. I didn't hit enough greens and give myself enough chances consistently. Over a period of time, you have to sustain that. I would like to get my iron game back to what I think it should be.
Q: Talk about music and its influence in your life.
JR: It's hard to say what music meant to me. I love the guitar. I have a collection of eight or nine guitar of all sizes and shapes. I love to listen to music with focus on guitar—Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Dave Matthews. It's more an escape. It's my time. I listen to music before I go to the golf course. I'll turn it up loud. Music gets me going and gets my mind going the right way. I just wish I was a little better at playing the guitar.
Q: You also love billiards. Does billiards help your golf game?
JR: Billiards is a hobby. It's more of an escape. It's something to take my mind away from golf.
I do think they are very similar. You have to have a strategy. You have to think of next shot. The position of the next shot.
Q: How do you like living in Dallas?
JR: I love it. Dallas has been a great move for me. It's a great town. Great food. Great sports. A great place to live. Travel is wonderful. Everything is nonstop flights. Quick way to get where I need to go. For what I do, it makes a lot of sense to live here.