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NISSAN OPEN Weather plays through tourney



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



Rain cancels play on Saturday and might force event to be cut to 36 holes.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Heavy rain that flooded bunkers and covered the greens with thousands of worms forced officials to cancel golf Saturday in the Nissan Open, raising the possibility of the PGA Tour's first 36-hole event in nearly nine years.

"Our main goal is to get 36 holes in," PGA Tour tournament director Mark Russell said.

Even that might be wishful thinking.

Some rain is in the forecast for today, with more heavy showers expected on Monday. The Match Play Championship, a $7.5 million World Golf Championship, is scheduled to start Wednesday down the coast at La Costa.

This was the first washout on the PGA Tour since no golf was played in the second round of the Match Play Championship last year.

72 holes in doubt

Russell said there is still slight hope for a 72-hole tournament, but even going to a Monday finish to get in 54 holes requires a break from the dreary skies over Sunset Boulevard.

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

Brian Davis of England has not hit a shot since he opened with a 65 for the first-round lead on Thursday.

Only half the 144-man field completed the second round Friday, with Chad Campbell at 9-under 133 and leading Robert Allenby by three shots at Riviera Country Club.

None of the others made it even halfway through the round Friday when play was suspended by darkness. They are to return at 7:30 a.m. today to resume -- or in the case of Davis, begin -- the second round.

Kevin Sutherland birdied two of his first four holes and was at 6-under.

36-holer unofficial

Tiger Woods can't buy a break at Riviera. He finally got off to a good start at his hometown PGA Tour event -- the only tour event he has played at least four times without winning -- and it might not even count. Woods was at 5-under for the tournament with 14 holes remaining in his second round.

PGA Tour policy states that if a tournament is only 36 holes, the winner gets $864,000 toward the money list, but it would not count as an official victory. That means the winner would not get a two-year exemption on tour, or a spot in the winners-only field at Kapalua next year.

The last time a PGA Tour event went only 36 holes was the 1996 Buick Challenge at Callaway Gardens, when Michael Bradley won in a five-way playoff.

Russell said it was too early to speculate what might happen if everyone only completed 18 holes and the weather did not allow for any more golf.

Riviera got 21/2 inches of rain during a six-hour period before Saturday was washed out. Bunkers had pools a foot deep at the low points, and small streams ran through most of the fairways. And because there was so much rain, thousands of worms rose to the surface, making greens look as though they were littered with small pine needles.




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