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Short day earns Scott big check

Posted: Tuesday, February 22, 2005

 

  Australian Adam Scott chips on to the 18th green on the first sudden-death playoff hole in the Nissan Open with Chad Campbell, at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, on Monday, Feb. 21, 2005. Scott pared the first playoff hole to win. AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Australian Adam Scott chips on to the 18th green on the first sudden-death playoff hole in the Nissan Open with Chad Campbell, at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, on Monday, Feb. 21, 2005. Scott pared the first playoff hole to win.

AP Photo/Chris Carlson

LOS ANGELES — Adam Scott has his name on the Nissan Open trophy.

He earned $864,000, which counts just the same if he had played 72 holes, instead of only two rounds followed by a sudden-death playoff Monday morning in the rain against Chad Campbell.

He even was nervous standing over his tee shot in the playoff on the famous 18th hole at Riviera Country Club.

But there was no denying the strange sensation Scott felt after winning the first 36-hole event on the PGA Tour in nine years, a victory that comes with a trophy, a check and an asterisk.

Scott, who made a 20-foot birdie putt a day earlier to finish his second round tied with Campbell at 9-under 133, made short work of the long week by getting up-and-down for par on the first extra hole to win the Nissan Open.

After rolling in the 4-footer, Scott had to remind himself what winners do.

First came an awkward smile, then he gently raised his hand to acknowledge the 200 people watching the bizarre conclusion under gray skies and a colorful array of umbrellas.

''It doesn't feel like we played much golf this week,'' Scott said. ''I don't feel tired and drained like you normally do when it's finally over, and you've been battling with some guy for the last 36 holes. It's been an odd week.''

It was weird even after the Nissan Open finally got a winner.

The tournament was cut short to 36 holes because of heavy rain overnight that turned Riviera into the prettiest swamp on Sunset Boulevard.

PGA Tour events have to be at least 54 holes to be considered official. That means Scott still has only three PGA Tour victories. He does not earn a trip to the winners-only Mercedes Championships next year at Kapalua, or any of the other perks that come with winning.

Scott agrees with the policy, but he found plenty of positives.

''I wanted to win just as bad as any other playoff,'' he said. ''But it was a different feeling, for sure.''

Campbell also felt the sting of losing.

He was at a slight disadvantage, having not hit a shot since he tapped in for par to complete his second round Friday with a 6-under 65. The range was closed on Saturday. When he arrived at Riviera on Sunday afternoon to start the third round, the siren sounded to halt play.

He smoked his drive down the middle of the fairway in the playoff, leaving him a 5-wood. Protecting from the perilous left side of the green, Campbell flared his approach to the right. He had to take relief from a muddy puddle, chipped 5 feet past the hole and caught the left edge of the cup with a tricky par putt.

''You never want to get beat in a playoff,'' he said. ''That's never a good feeling.''

Scott pulled his tee shot into the rough, then pounded a 3-wood as close to the green as possible. He came up about 80 feet short, and chipped about 4 feet by the hole.

''A win is a win,'' Scott said with a shrug. ''I will be called the champion, but you don't get the benefits of it. That's OK. That's just the way it is.''

A dozen other players never got the chance to keep playing.

Darren Clarke and Brian Davis were one shot behind going into the third round, which was supposed to resume at 7:30 a.m. PST. They cleaned out their lockers and left town.

Colin Montgomerie, who has never won on the PGA Tour, was two shots behind and had to settle for a tie for fifth.

The rain also ended any chance for Tiger Woods to return to No. 1 in the world this week. He needed to finish fourth to replace Vijay Singh, and wound up four shots out of the lead in a tie for 13th. Woods likely will have to win the Match Play Championship this week for the third straight year to reclaim No. 1.

Scott moved up to No. 7 in the world. He was awarded 75 percent of the world ranking points at Riviera.

''I can take some confidence out of this week,'' Scott said. ''I think if I won over 72 holes, I would be taking a lot more. I never really played under any pressure this week, apart from that one playoff hole. That's not coming down the stretch, testing every element of your game.''

The last 36-hole winner on the PGA Tour was Michael Bradley in the 1996 Buick Challenge at Callaway Gardens, a tournament that no longer exists. He won in a five-way playoff.

Other players to have won after only two rounds on the PGA Tour were Brian Henninger at the 1994 Southern Farm Bureau Classic, and Neal Lancaster at the 1994 Byron Nelson Championship, a victory that was known as the half-Nelson. Those counted in the record books, but the PGA Tour later changed its policy.

Caddies and players huddled from the rain early Monday until the third round was called off. Scott ran into Robert Allenby, a fellow Aussie, in the locker room and jokingly asked for a few tips.

Allenby won the Nissan Open four years ago in a six-man playoff by hitting a 3-wood into 5 feet on the 18th hole under similar conditions — cold, rain, a slight breeze.

''I said, 'Driver, 3-wood and a putt?''' Scott said. ''His was about 6 feet, mine was about 86 feet.''

Ultimately, he got the trophy — just not a victory in the record books.



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