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Rain washes away another day in L.A.



Published: Mon, February 21, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The third round lasted only 30 minutes before play was suspended.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

LOS ANGELES -- The Nissan Open is headed for uncharted waters.

After four days at rainy Riviera Country Club, no one has played more than 37 holes. And when rain suspended play a mere 30 minutes into the third round Sunday afternoon, officials conceded the possibility that the next hole anyone plays will be a sudden-death playoff between Adam Scott and Chad Campbell.

That's assuming they can find a hole that's not under water.

"We're going to make every effort to play," PGA Tour tournament director Mark Russell said. "We're going to come back in the morning, try to finish the third round and see how it goes from there."

Where the Nissan Open stood Sunday evening was baffling.

Campbell wound up getting the weekend off, which is golf vernacular for missing the cut. At the rain-delayed Nissan Open, that means he finished his second round Friday and hasn't hit another shot since then, not even on the range.

& quot;None yesterday and none today," Campbell said. "That's zero."

Strange situation

Scott rarely feels a sense of urgency in the second round of any tournament, but this happened to be on a Sunday afternoon when he was one shot out of the lead, with clouds gathering on the horizon.

"I did think this may be the last putt of the week here," Scott said. "So I better make it count."

Scott rolled in a 20-foot birdie from the fringe on his final hole for a 5-under 66 in a second round that took him three days to complete. It put him at 9-under 133, tied with Campbell.

What happens next depends on the weather.

The forecast is for heavy rain overnight and throughout today, and Russell said Riviera is at the point where any rain will flood fairways and bunkers.

Players were to return today at 7:30 a.m. -- only 12 of the 75 who made the cut teed off in the third round -- and hope the forecast is wrong. The goal is to at least complete 54 holes so it becomes an official tournament.

Otherwise, Russell said it could revert to a 36-hole tournament, the winner decided by a playoff.

The last time that happened was the 2000 BellSouth Classic, when the final round was washed out. Phil Mickelson and Gary Nicklaus went to the par-3 16th hole, where Mickelson made birdie to win.

"Hopefully, we won't have to do that," Russell said. "Hopefully, we can come out ... and play golf."

PGA Tour events must be at least 54 holes to be considered official. And if more than half of the field finishes the third round today before more rain arrives, the tournament could carry over into Tuesday.

And if it rains Tuesday?

"That would be a decision for the commissioner," Russell said.

Chasing the leader

All that mattered Sunday was getting to at least 9-under par to catch Campbell.

Needing a birdie on the 18th hole, Darren Clarke hit a 4-iron so pure that it sailed over the flag and over the green, and he had to make a testy 6-footer to save par for a 68 that left him at 8-under 134, along with Brian Davis (69).

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 left side of the hill framing the green. He flopped his pitch to 8 feet, and then three-putted for a double bogey that gave him a 70, leaving him four shots behind.

Woods' only hope to replace Vijay Singh at No. 1 in the world is for the third round to be completed, and for him to finish no worse than fourth. He was in a tie for 13th after two rounds.

Other players have an even greater reason to keep going. "I'm one behind," Clarke said. "I want to play."




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