Nissan Open a washout

KEN FIDLIN, IN LOS ANGELES

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

You have to admire their persistence but the PGA Tour is pounding its head against a wall. A wall of water.

It took them four days to get 36 holes played at the Nissan Open, and it very well could take four more if they insist upon finishing all 72.

Unfortunately, they don't have that much time.

Nearly five inches of rain fell on Riviera Country Club this weekend and, while the golf course tried its best to keep its head above water, it was a losing battle.

Play once again was called yesterday when a strong rainstorm engulfed the course just moments after the third round began at 2:45 p.m. PST. Tour officials planned to wait overnight before deciding what to do, but another stormy forecast seems to have doomed this tournament.

If that's the case, then Chad Campbell, who struck his last shot on Friday afternoon about 5 p.m., and Adam Scott, who caught Campbell nearly two days later on his last hole, will probably engage in a playoff to decide who gets the $864,000 US cheque for first prize and who gets the second-place money of $518,400.

"Right now," said tournament director Mark Russell, "we're committed to play 72 holes but that window is closing fast.

"We'll come back in the morning and see what the situation is, but the forecast isn't very good. The way our regulations are written, we have to make every effort to play the tournament to its conclusion."

Campbell set the number to shoot at and everybody who teed it up yesterday knew it.

With time running out, anyone who had a shot of catching Campbell knew it was time to take some chances.

"I thought that if a person wanted to win this week, then you had to be at least nine-under," Scott said.

"The course held up well, soft but not too wet, so therefore you could go right at the pins, knowing it would stop right there."

Scott needed to drain a breaking 20-foot putt to square himself with Campbell on his 36th hole, almost two full days after Campbell had finished his 36th hole at nine under.

Darren Clarke shot a 68 that left him at eight-under 134, along with Brian Davis (69).

Tiger Woods was only two shots behind until he butchered the 18th. From the right rough, he tried to play a fade around the trees, but the ball plugged into the side of the hill framing the green. He flopped his pitch to eight feet, and then three-putted for a double bogey that gave him a 70, leaving him four shots behind Campbell and Scott.

Saturday's round was lost entirely because overnight rains estimated at five inches on Friday had left the golf course largely under water.

Course superintendent Matt Morton said he had never seen so much rain on a golf course in such a short period of time.

Play resumed at 9:30 yesterday morning, but play was very slow under the 'lift, clean and place' rule that allows players to clean their golf ball after every shot.

By the time the second round had concluded, at about 2:30 p.m., heavy rains returned but that didn't prevent PGA officials from sending players back out in an attempt to play at least 54 holes.

A complicating factor is that the forecast last evening was for some potentially torrential rains to fall overnight.

If that happened, there was no chance the golf course would be playable this morning.

"If we have no alternatives, then the tournament will revert to 36 holes and we'll have to find us a way to have a fair playoff," Russell said. "We will not come back at a later date to complete this."

Copious amounts of rainfall is nothing new to Los Angeles at this time of year. It happens every winter.

Remarkably, though, the Nissan Open has completed all 72 holes in every one of its 79 years, save for one. That was in 1993 when Tom Kite was declared the winner after 54 holes had been played.

"Weather forecasts are notoriously often wrong," Russell said. "Sometimes I think the golf gods sit up there and wait for us to make a cancellation call and then they make the sun start to shine. We're going to wait and see."

Undoubtedly, what they'll see is an unplayable golf course.

Then the call becomes easy.


Videos

Photos