Puddles of problems

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

The note on the scoreboard next to Jonathan Kaye's name said it all: "Withdrew (non-swimmer)." It certainly would have been possible to drown in one of the hundreds of duck ponds that started out as bunkers at Riviera Country Club yesterday. Heavy overnight rain on Friday night and yesterday morning forced the PGA Tour to wipe out an entire day's play for the first time in nearly 12 months and leaves the Nissan Open in a quandary.

Some players have completed two full rounds but some haven't even teed off for their second rounds yet. Even if there are no interruptions today, it's doubtful that this 80th edition of the Nissan will ever reach a 72-hole conclusion.

Rain is again in the forecast today, with more on the way tomorrow.

"Our main goal is to get 36 holes in," tournament director Mark Russell said. "We can't play golf (yesterday). The bunker are totally gone."

Chad Campbell is in the lead at nine-under-par, having completed 36 holes. That gives him a three-shot lead over Aussie Robert Allenby at six-under. There are, however a half-dozen players who have played only a few holes of the second round ready to cut into that lead. Kevin Sutherland also is at six-under, having played only four holes of his second round. Three others -- Tiger Woods, Darren Clarke and Adam Scott -- are at five-under, all at various stages of the round. And Brian Davis, who led after the first round, has not hit a shot since early Thursday afternoon. He starts his second round this morning.

The irony of the cancellation yesterday is that, despite the condition of the golf course, the weather yesterday was the best since Tuesday, as hardly any rain fell after 10 a.m.

Indeed, if the rains come back hard today, Russell may be regretting his decision to blow off the entire day. Yes, the bunkers would have been a problem but the rest of the golf course, by early afternoon, was in outstanding condition and easily playable. Certainly the second round could have been finished, taking some of the pressure off today.

If they can get the second round finished by noon today, cut the field, then send the survivors right back out on the course, there is a chance that they could get the third round in before nightfall.

At that point, a decision will have to be made whether to continue tomorrow, with many players in the field already facing a short week. The alternative is to declare a winner after 54 holes.

Play on Mondays always is a problem for the Tour because that normally is the transition day from one tournament to the next. It's also a day that players use to regroup with their coaches, touch base with their families or make a little money on the side with a corporate outing.

That transition day is especially acute this week because the next tournament, the World Match Play Championship down the coast at Carlsbad, is supposed to start on Wednesday, a day earlier than a normal event. The players who don't qualify for the WGC event will be in Tucson for the Tucson Open.

The other problem facing PGA officials as they try to figure out an exit strategy from the Nissan Open is the fact that yet another storm is lined up out in the Pacific Ocean and has Los Angeles in its crosshairs.

Estimated time of arrival? Tomorrow, of course.

The PGA Tour has declared 36-hole victors in the past but not recently. The last event shortened to 36 holes was the 1996 Buick Challenge, won by Michael Bradley in a five-man playoff.

If the Nissan is in fact shortened to 36 holes, the winner will get the full first-prize cheque but he will not get credit for an official PGA victory and will not get to play in the Mercedes Championship next January, nor be given the usual two-year exemption that goes with a tournament win.

"We're at the mercy of the elements and right now it has us on the ground," Russell said.


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