2005: Scott makes short work of soggy Riviera
Pacific Palisades, Calif.
The Nissan Open was all about wet and weird. The playoff winner, Adam Scott, declared himself fresh and hardly taxed, not typical after a duel for big cash. The playoff loser, fellow UNLV-ex Chad Campbell, was even more rested. He was the rustiest golfer around.
“An odd week,” said Scott, who later used the words “unusual week” for variety’s sake.
The week was also long and short. Long because play extended to Monday and everybody sat around chichi Riviera Country Club waiting for the rain to stop. Short because rain limited the tournament to 36 holes.
“I never played under any pressure this week apart from the one playoff hole,” Scott said.
The 24-year-old Australian won with a par to Campbell’s bogey Feb. 21 on that sudden-death playoff hole, the 475-yard 18th. Teeing off in light rain before about 50 spectators, Scott hooked his tee shot into rough, hit a 3-wood short right of the green and chipped to 3 feet. Thus, he won with his short game, the area that has been his main weakness, the aspect he needs to improve if he is to rise from his spot as No. 7 in the world.
“I said two weeks ago that my chipping and putting was embarrassing,” Scott said. “That chip was a good chip. I can take a lot of confidence out of it.”
Campbell had the advantage after driving into the fairway, but he blocked a 213-yard 5-wood right, chipped 4 feet past and powered a putt too firmly off the left lip. “Bad second shot, poor putt,” he said.
Had Campbell won, he almost certainly would have been the first Tour winner to never play a hole on Saturday and Sunday.
USA Today always has weekends off. Monday-to-Friday working stiffs do, too. The former masterful Davids, Duval and Gossett, usually don’t work weekends these days either, like other professional golfers who miss cuts.
But a guy who ends up in the playoff doesn’t usually have the weekend off. He normally doesn’t enter the playoff rusty. In Campbell’s case, he never even hit a practice shot on the weekend.
“No balls,” Campbell said. “That would be zero.”
So we’re in uncharted waters here.
“It was a tough break for Chad because he hasn’t hit a shot in two days,” Scott said.
The event was so different that Campbell took the second-round lead Friday afternoon and Scott moved into a tie for the second-round lead Sunday afternoon.
Scott, who owned three previous Tour wins, may have the title, but weather dominated all week. Rain caused a four-hour delay to the start of play Friday, and 72 players didn’t complete the second round. Because of rain and saturated ground, there was no Round 2 golf from 5:44 p.m. Friday until 9:30 a.m. Sunday.
“There was such a long gap,” Scott said, “it was almost like starting a new week. . . . It doesn’t feel like we played much golf. I don’t feel tired and drained like I battled with someone for 36 holes. It was a different feeling.”
Riviera superintendent Matt Morton said 3.75 inches of rain fell between Friday morning and Saturday morning. Then more came Saturday night, much of Sunday and Monday morning – to the point that the Tour said 71⁄2 inches fell from Thursday through Monday completion.
This is only the second time since the Los Angeles Open began in 1926 that the tournament failed to go 72 holes. The other was in 1993, when Tom Kite won a 54-hole event for the last of his 19 Tour titles.
The $4.8 million prize money was fully paid out and counted on the official money list. But Scott’s victory doesn’t count as official, meaning it doesn’t qualify him for the Mercedes Championship and isn’t worth a two-year exemption (which he didn’t need anyway because of a five-year exemption thanks to his 2004 Players Championship victory).
That wasn’t the case in the Tour’s last 36-hole event, in 1996 at the rain-shortened Buick Challenge, an event that is now defunct. The rule was changed after Michael Bradley’s victory at Callaway Gardens, Ga., was deemed official.
The Tour in recent years has pushed harder to complete 72 holes, a different mandate than in the mid-1990s. Brian Henninger (Southern Farm Bureau) and Neal Lancaster (Byron Nelson Classic) won 36-holers in 1994. The 1996 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, a tournament played over three courses, was canceled after 36 holes.
Campbell shot 65 Friday and moved to the top at 9-under 133, stretching a bogeyless streak to 27 holes. Then Scott tied him Sunday with a 20-foot birdie putt that broke 2 feet on his 36th hole, the 458-yard ninth.
“I did think this might be the last putt of the week and that I needed to make it count,” Scott said.
Instead of playing golf on the weekend, Campbell said he did “not much of anything. I sat around the hotel, watched TV and went to eat.” He also monitored live scoring on his computer to see if anyone would catch him.
First-round leader Brian Davis, one of eight Englishmen in the field, and Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland tied for third at 8 under, one shot back.
Twelve players completed at least a hole in the third round late Sunday afternoon before rain made the course unplayable again and stopped play. The next morning, the Tour decided to revert to 36 holes and send Campbell and Scott out in a sudden-death playoff starting on No. 18.
“For a tour that tries to follow the sun,” Scott said, “it seems to be played under water a lot of the time.”