The most compelling story surrounding last week’s Nissan Open had nothing to do with the leaderboard, but rather whether the hallowed greens and fairways at Riviera Country Club could hold up under four days of driving rain. After two rounds, 19 golfers were within four shots of co-leaders Adam Scott and Chad Campbell, who were both 9-under par. It appeared to be anyone’s tournament to win with two rounds left. But when continued thunder showers saturated the course beyond playability, the event was cancelled early Monday morning. Sure, Scott beat Campbell on the first playoff hole and was presented with the tournament trophy, but because only 36 holes were completed, he was not credited with an official victory. And in the press tent afterwards, he admitted he didn’t even feel like the winner. ‘It’s nice to have the trophy and I will be called the champion but it does feel different,’ said the 24-year-old Australian, who hails from Hope Island, Australia. ‘I don’t feel tired and drained like you normally do when it’s finally over and you have been battling some guy for the last 36 holes or something. It’s unfortunate circumstances, but there has to be a winner, I guess.’ Two hours after the third round was cancelled, the two co-leaders met at the 18th tee for a playoff to determine who would be declared the unofficial winner. Scott hooked his drive into the rough while Campbell’s ball landed smack in the middle of the fairway, giving him the early advantage. But Scott’s second shot from 242 yards out left him good position just off the green while his opponent hit into the sparse crowd assembled just off the green. Scott’s chip landed three feet below the pin while Campbell’s attempt rolled to a stop four feet above the pin. Now, both players were faced with short par putts. ‘There’s been a lot of waiting and killing time,’ said Scott, who moved up to No. 7 in the world rankings. ‘It was a tough break for Chad because he hasn’t hit a shot in two days where I got to play a little bit everyday. So maybe that was better for me. But a playoff is unpredictable.’ Campbell putted first and his attempt looked true but veered left at the last instant, rolling off the edge of the cup and stopping three feet to the right of the hole. Scott took a few moments to line up his own shot and drained it, giving a half-hearted wave of acknowledgement to his opponent and the spectators. ‘I’m definitely disappointed,’ said Campbell, a 30-year-old from Lewisville, Texas. ‘Whether it’s official or not, I don’t like losing. I would have liked to continue the tournament. I think everybody would have at least liked to get 54 holes in, but it’s just not possible. The course can’t take this much rain. No course can.’ Darren Clarke and Brian Davis finished tied for second at 8-under, Colin Montgomerie and J.L. Lewis were 7-under and six players were at 6-under through 36 holes. Tiger Woods, looking to regain the No. 1 ranking he lost last year, needed to finish fourth or higher to overtake Vijay Singh, who decided to skip the Nissan Open. Woods was in striking distance after two rounds’only four shots back’but he would’ve been closer if he hadn’t double-bogeyed the 18th hole Sunday morning. In 78 previous years at the Nissan Open, only once was the tournament shortened due to inclement weather. That was in 1993 when Tom Kite won by three strokes in a 54-hole event. Mike Weir, who won the previous two events, finished tied for 37th at 2-under-par. Little did he know it then, but Scott would not even have forced a playoff had he not made a 20-foot birdie putt on the last hole Sunday morning that pulled him even with Campbell after two rounds. ‘That was a big putt. We all knew that the weather report wasn’t looking good for Monday. So I thought that might be it and it was nice to knock that one in for sure, just to give me the chance.’
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