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NISSAN OPEN Campbell takes lead after 65



Published: Sat, February 19, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Rain continues to plague event as most late starters could not finish rounds.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Considering the amount of rain that soaked Riviera, Chad Campbell didn't expect to complete his second round Friday in the Nissan Open. The bigger surprise was where he finished.

Equipped with a vastly improved short game, Campbell nearly holed out two shots and only came close to a bogey once in a round of 6-under 65 that gave him a three-shot lead over Robert Allenby.

Whether he keeps that lead won't be determined until today.

A four-hour rain delay in the morning made it certain that first-round leader Brian Davis, Tiger Woods and the rest of the late starters would have to return Saturday and face a long day -- weather permitting.

Seventy-two players trudged in from Riviera, some of them with mud speckled on their faces and coating the bottom of their rain pants. They have to return at 7:30 a.m. today.

"I'm definitely a lot happier than a lot of the guys out there right now," Allenby said after his 67.

Davis, who opened with a 65, had the last tee time. He was about to hit his opening tee shot on No. 10 when the siren sounded to suspend the second round because of darkness. None of the late starters finished even nine holes.

Improved short game

Woods was 1-under for his round and 5-under for the tournament with his ball in the fifth fairway. Campbell finished about the time Woods headed for the first tee.

"Honestly, I thought we wouldn't start," said Campbell, who was at 9-under 133. "But the course was great. I gave myself a lot of chances and was able to make a lot of putts for a change."

The short game, especially his putting, is what has held Campbell back.

He won his first PGA Tour event two years ago at the Tour Championship on the strength of a third-round 61, then rallied from four shots behind on the last day to win the Bay Hill Invitational last March.

In between, the results have been spotty.

Campbell went to see Dwaine Knight, his college coach at UNLV, earlier this month to work on his putting, and it's starting to pay off.

Familiar territory

Ditto for Allenby, who won the 2001 Nissan Open -- in the rain, no less -- but has gone the last three years without winning on Tour. He thinks he knows why.

"I haven't been hitting the ball very well," Allenby said. "My short game has been terrible. My putting has been horrendous, and I have been driving the ball pretty bad. And I've been hitting my irons pretty average, too."

The good news?

"I walked pretty well from tee to green," Allenby said.

It wasn't all that bad. The Aussie can get it going when the putts start falling, and that was the case Friday. He holed a 25-foot eagle putt on the first hole, and his irons looked just fine -- into 2 feet for a birdie on the par-3 sixth, and finishing his round with a 7-iron into 8 feet on the 18th.

The conditions must have looked familiar. Allenby won at Riviera in 2001 by making short work of a six-man playoff, hitting a 3-wood from 225 through a cold rain into 5 feet for birdie.

"Back then, I wasn't playing that well coming into here, and the same deal now," Allenby said.

Weir well back

Two-time defending champion Mike Weir was among the leaders until the wind fooled him on the par-4 13th. He had 100 yards into the green for his third shot, but went long, then three-putted from 5 feet and wound up with a 73, leaving him seven shots behind in his quest to become the first player to win three consecutive times at the Nissan Open.




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