Nissan Reduced to 36 Holes

By Associated PressFebruary 21, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Nissan OpenPACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- The remainder of the Nissan Open was canceled Monday morning after 2 inches of rain fell overnight, making it the first 36-hole event on the PGA Tour in nine years.

The only thing left to decide is the winner of a tournament that won't even count.

Adam Scott, who made a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole of his second round Sunday, and Chad Campbell were to have a sudden-death playoff at 9:30 a.m. PST.

The playoff would be at the famous 18th hole at Riviera Country Club, the only hole that doesn't have a bunker in the landing area off the tee or around the green.

It would put the finishing touches on a bizarre week off Sunset Boulevard.

Campbell had the weekend off and still had a chance to have his name on the Nissan Open trophy. Scott joined him at 9-under 133 with a 66 that took him three days to complete.

PGA Tour tournament record Mark Russell told players at 7:30 a.m -- when the third round was to resume -- that the course was unplayable, and that the forecast was for even more rain throughout the day.

Of the 75 players who made the cut, only 12 had even teed off in the third round Sunday afternoon, and none had finished the second hole.

The last 36-hole winner on the PGA Tour was Michael Bradley in the 1996 Buick Challenge at Callaway Gardens, a tournament that no longer exists. He won in a five-way playoff.

Other players to have won after only two rounds on the PGA Tour were Brian Henninger at the 1994 Southern Farm Bureau Classic, and Neal Lancaster at the 1994 Byron Nelson Championship, a victory that was known as the half-Nelson.

But those counted in the record books.

The PGA Tour several years ago decided that only 54-hole tournaments could be deemed official.

That means the winner Monday would get the $864,000 in his bank account and applied toward the money list, but he would not get the perks that go along with winning -- an official victory for his record, a trip to the winners-only Mercedes Championships at Kapalua, or a two-year exemption on tour.

The rest of the players also were paid according to where they finished.

That's small consolation to Darren Clarke and Brian Davis, who were one shot behind after the second round, and especially Colin Montgomerie, who has never won a PGA Tour event and was only two shots behind.

And it ended any chance for Tiger Woods to return to No. 1 in the world this week. He needed to finish fourth to replace Vijay Singh, and ended this week in a tie for 13th, four shots out of the lead.

Woods probably would have to win the Match Play Championship at La Costa later this week for the third straight year to reclaim No. 1.

As players cleaned out their lockers, some of them heading down the coast to La Costa, Campbell and Scott got out their rain gear and waited for the range to open so they could warm up.

And even though the tournament is unofficial, it ends Mike Weir's two-year reign as the champion. The Canadian was trying to become the first player in Nissan Open history to win three straight times. He was at 2-under 140, seven shots out of the lead.

'Obviously, I was hoping for 36 more holes,' Weir said. 'It would have been tough to make that up in one round.'

No one will have more rust than Campbell. He shot his 65 on Friday, and has not hit a ball since then. He arrived Sunday afternoon in time to hear the siren sound to halt play.

Most players knew the verdict when they arrived at Riviera early Monday; some never showed up.

Tour officials were forced to wait until Monday, even though every forecast shows rain. Six years ago at Pebble Beach, the forecast showed a storm system from the Monterey Peninsula to Tokyo, and the tour decided Sunday evening to declare a 54-hole winner (Payne Stewart).

The next day, several people played Pebble Beach. One guy lost a ball in the sun.

As dreary as it was Sunday, there was still some drama.

Scott knew the forecast, and he knew what was at stake as he stood over a 20-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the final hole of his second round.

'I did think this may be the last putt of the week here,' Scott said. 'So I better make it count.'

The last time rain washed out the last round and set up a sudden-death playoff was the 2000 BellSouth Classic, when Phil Mickelson beat Gary Nicklaus with a birdie on the par-3 16th, the only hole suitable for play.
 
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