Mattiace Comes Up Aces at Nissan


The absence of rain this year on the PGA Tour is nothing short of remarkable, but it pales in comparison to the streak that Len Mattiace was building up.
The PGA Tour pro had toiled for seven years, enduring heartbreak after heartbreak, but couldnt get a victory.
Sunday, the tour broke its streak of no rain at an event in 2002 when it poured briefly, and while the rain was brief, Mattiace is hoping his reign is far longer.
Mattiace broke a 220-tournament drought, shooting a 3-under 68 at Riviera Country Club to win the Nissan Open by a stroke over Scott McCarron, Rory Sabbatini and Brad Faxon.
It appeared early on that this would be another tournament that would cause Mattiace to run to the psychiatrists couch. He was chasing friend McCarron for most of the front nine, but made bogey on the second and fifth hole.
I was very mad, Mattiace said. I felt confident, though, that I could hang in there.
He did, never getting more than three strokes behind McCarron and turning the day around on the 12th hole when he holed out from a bunker as McCarron made bogey.
I didnt want to force anything, Mattiace said. I thought that was a big hole, however.
McCarron had the third-round lead, but was watching the tournament slip away from him. By the time the two got to 18 they were tied, and while Mattiace played conservatively, McCarron went at the pin.
I wanted to win the tournament, McCarron said. I wasnt thinking playoff.
He didnt have to worry about it. His approach shot went to the left in the kikuyu rough and left him a tricky up and down. He tried to hit his third shot with his putter, but the ball snagged in the rough and barely trickled on the green, leaving him with a seven-foot putt.
Ive putted out of the kikuyu forever, McCarron said. But I missed the second putt totally.
Mattiace safely two-putted from 30-feet for his first victory on the PGA Tour.
Scott is a good friend and you dont want to see someone make a mistake like that, Mattiace said. Winning, though, is a better feeling than I thought it would be.
He certainly knew how tough losing was. In 1997, he had the lead going into the final round of the Walt Disney Classic and shot a 74 and lost by two strokes. A year later, he was a stroke behind Justin Leonard with two holes to go at The Players Championship, but his tee shot on the 17th island hole went in the water and he tied for fifth. In 1999, he finished second at the Sony Open and in 2000 he was third at the Tampa Bay Classic.
The final day at Disney was tough to take, Mattiace said. Those experiences you always draw from and learn from them.
McCarron learned that Sunday.
I went into the locker room and it was like I had the plague, McCarron said. No one would talk to me. Basically Im laughing at myself. It was my tournament to win.
Full-field scores from the Nissan Open