2002: College - Rollins inspired by ‘Jack flashback’
Coach Kyle Frakes borrowed a piece of golf history to help guide Rollins College to victory May 24 at the 2002 NCAA Division II Men’s National Championship.
Frakes, a self-proclaimed Jack Nicklaus fanatic, showed his team a clip of Nicklaus winning the ’86 Masters on a number of occasions throughout the season. As the Golden Bear drained a putt on the 17th hole on his way to the green jacket 16 years ago, the television announcer exclaimed, “Maybe . . . yes, sir,” as the ball rolled into the cup.
The Tars coach used those three words as the team’s slogan, and even had T-shirts made with the phrase printed across the back.
Before the start of the final round, Frakes cut up one of his T-shirts and gave each player a piece to carry around in his pocket. The No. 5 player received a “May,” No. 4 carried around the “be,” No. 3 had the ellipsis, No. 2 held onto the “yes” and senior Rob Oppenheim anchored the squad, carrying the word “sir.”
And his teammates probably will be calling Oppenheim “sir” for quite some time after he made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole to clinch a one-stroke victory in true Nicklaus fashion.
“I’ll be darned if our slogan didn’t come true,” Frakes said. “Unbelievable.”
Rollins of Winter Park, Fla., came into the final round trailing North Alabama and California State-Stanislaus by two strokes.
“After the 10th hole, we were five, six strokes behind, and we rallied the ship on 15-18,” Frakes said. “Our kids stayed poised and played their hearts out.”
Three members of the Rollins team, including Oppenheim, birdied No. 18 to give the team a four-day total of 58-over-par 1,194, one shot better than CSU-Stanislaus.
Oppenheim led the team with scores of 73-74-72-71, good for third overall.
Alex Smith posted Rollins’ low round of the day, a 1-under 70, while teammate Derek Murphy shot 72, his best round of the tournament.
Florida Southern College gave the Tars a scare when they turned in the low round of the tournament, a 287.
But the Mocs finished third, two strokes out of first.
“Today was a tremendous round,” said coach Doug Gordin. “We especially played well the last nine holes and that’s how we’ve won championships in the past.”
Gordin, whose team came to the tournament on an at-large bid, said nobody gave the Mocs a chance coming into nationals because they hadn’t won a tournament all year.
“This is the best tournament we’ve played all year, and that’s what you’re looking for coming into a national championship. . . . We proved that they did have to worry about us,” Gordin said.
Chico State’s J.J. Jakovac also took advantage of the at-large bid he received, claiming the individual title after shooting a final-round 66 to beat North Alabama’s Jason Vaughn by three strokes.
“I hit it phenomenal,” said Jakovac, who finished at 1-over 285. “The way I hit it on the back nine is the best I’ve ever struck the ball in competition.”
The sophomore from Napa, Calif., birdied Nos. 10, 12, 13 and 16. He also missed three 5-foot birdie putts on Nos. 11, 14 and 15.
“The 18-foot putt for birdie I had on No. 17 was the longest putt I had on the back nine,” he said. “I just got really, really focused. I was in the zone.”
Jakovac won five regular-season events this year and came in fifth at regionals.