wins with another great comeback
By Doug Ferguson, The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Mike Weir
staged another unlikely comeback Sunday, making up a seven-stroke
deficit against Charles Howell III and winning the Nissan Open with a
birdie on the second playoff hole.
Weir closed with a 5-under 66 on tough Riviera
Country Club, then waited nearly an hour as Howell played his final
seven holes in 2 over.
The Canadian holed an 8-foot putt on No. 10, then claimed his second PGA
Tour title in the last four weeks when Howell missed a birdie putt from
Howell, who closed with a 73, failed to make a putt longer than 5 feet
Weir, winless on the PGA Tour a year ago, won for the second time in
four starts and moved to the top of the money list with just over $2
"It's a dream start to the year," Weir said. "Hopefully,
I can keep it going."
A month ago in the Bob Hope Classic, he rallied from four strokes behind
in the final round and won by two shots when everyone else around him
made mistakes. Sunday at Riviera was not much different.
Howell had a three-stroke lead going into the final round, and still led
by three heading to the back nine. But he missed a few fairways and a
couple of key putts, each one allowing Weir to slowly creep back into
|Both finished at 9-under 275.
Nick Price had a share of the lead until bogeys on the 15th and 16th. He
finished two strokes behind after a 72, tied with Fred Funk (68).
Tiger Woods had the best round of the day, a 6-under 65 that lifted him
into a tie for fifth at 278. It was the eighth consecutive top-10 finish
for Woods, dating to the British Open at Muirfield (tie for 28th).
Howell was stunned when his 6-foot birdie putt on the decisive playoff
hole stayed left of the cup.
"Never at any point today did I think I wasn't going to win the
tournament," Howell said.
As much as Howell squandered one chance after another, Weir
made a tough par on No. 13 to stay in the game and didn't make a bogey
over his final 13 holes.
Weir appeared to have a
clear advantage on the second playoff hole, the 311-yard 10th, by
playing safe off the tee with a fairway metal. He hit a sand wedge to 8
Howell went with the driver and hit it right into a bunker, a position
where few players manage to even make par. Still, he hit a tremendous
shot from 35 yards to a skinny green, the ball trickling 6 feet past the
"Charles hit a hell of a shot," Weir
said. "It was just my day."
Two of Weir's five victories have come in a playoff, the other one in
the Tour Championship two years ago in Houston.
Woods, meanwhile, now has played the Nissan Open six times without
winning, the most at any other PGA Tour event. He didn't lose his sense
"It definitely was a goal to get in the top 10 so I can get Ryder
Cup points," he said.
It was the first time Howell took a 54-hole lead into the final round,
and he kept his composure while holding off an early charge from Price.
Still, there were a few noticeable chinks.
"He was obviously unsettled," Price
said. "You could see it."
Howell was in command with a three-stroke lead at the turn, and there
was not much to suggest the rest of the day would be anything but a walk
beneath the mansions atop Riviera.
Then came a bogey on No. 10, the short-but-tough par 4. Another followed
on No. 12 when Howell hit into a bunker and barely got it out, having to
chip close to make bogey.
When he three-putted from 50 feet on the par-3 14th, he was back to 9
under and no longer had the lead to him for the first time all weekend.
Ahead of them was Weir, who nearly holed from off
the green at No. 17, tapping in for a birdie to get to 9 under. Weir
left his approach about 30 feet right of the cup on No. 18, and the
two-putt par figured to end his run.
"I thought I needed a birdie there because
Charles still had the par 5 left," Weir said.
Howell failed to take advantage, though. From the middle of the fairway,
his 3-wood flared into the right rough, and a delicate pitch didn't get
past the fringe. He had to make a 4-foot putt just to get par.