Allenby Tries to End Jinx


Robert Allenby is the defending champion of this weeks Nissan Open, but that might not be the best of things.
Four consecutive defending champions have missed the cut on the PGA Tour. The curse started with Joe Durant at the Bob Hope; carried on with Mark Calcavecchia in Phoenix; bit Davis Love III in Pebble Beach; and ended Phil Mickelsons two-year run at the Buick Invitational.
Allenby will be making his first start since a two-week stint to start the season in Hawaii. He tied for 22nd in the Mercedes Championships, and tied for 23rd at the Sony Open.
Last year, Allenby produced the shot of the season by lacing a 3-wood from 225 yards to five feet on the first hole of sudden death.
Allenby birdied the 73rd hole to put an abrupt end to a six-man playoff, the largest in tour history (there was also a six-man playoff in the 1994 Byron Nelson Classic, but that event was reduced to 36 holes due to rain).
On a muddy Riviera course, Allenby, Dennis Paulson, Bob Tway, Jeff Sluman, Brandel Chamblee and Toshi Izawa all completed regulation at 8-under-par 276. Love could have voided the playoff, but he played his final four holes in 4-over to finish two shots back.
The six soggy competitors went to the 18th hole, where Allenby was in between clubs on his second shot ' 2-iron or 3-wood. He opted to choke down on the metal wood, and leter rip.
The end result was a bullet to five feet, from where he converted the winning putt.
I was trying to hit the perfect shot, and I came up with it,' Allenby said at the time. To be able to pull it off in those conditions ' pouring rain, five guys on your heels ' that's going to be a shot that stays in my memory bank a long time,
The victory further cemented Allenbys stature as 'The Playoff King.' The Australian upped his career playoff record to 7-0, with three of his four PGA Tour triumphs coming in extra sessions.
Allenby will once again have to best an impressive field ' along with the jinx ' in order to defend his title and collect the $666,000 first-place check.
David Duval, Sergio Garcia, Charles Howell III, Vijay Singh, Matt Gogel, Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke are among those scheduled to compete.
Tiger Woods was on the original commitment list, but withdrew last week. Woods decided to go to his Orlando home to rest and practice before returning to his native state of California for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at La Costa.
Ive been sick for almost two weeks now, Woods said at the Buick Invitational, where he tied for fifth. I just want to go home and get some rest, try and get my strength back.
The Match Play Championship is the only World Golf Championship event Woods has yet to win. He did not play last year, when the tournament was contested the first week in January in Australia. He lost in the finals to Darren Clarke in 2000.
I will be back for the match play,' he said. 'I just want to have enough strength for that week. Im a little run down.
Woods, who played in his first tour event as a 16-year-old amateur at Riviera in 1992, has also never won the Nissan. Hes played this event each of the past five seasons, finishing runner-up twice. His best chance for victory came in 1998, when he lost to Billy Mayfair in a playoff.