Nissan Open Notes
With his 2006 win, Rory Sabbatini, at 29 years, 10 months, 17 days, became just the fourth of the last 17 Nissan Open champions to win the tournament before turning 30. The others were 1999 champion Ernie Els (29), 2001 winner Robert Allenby (29) and 2005 champion Adam Scott (24).
Rory Sabbatini’s win a year ago was the seventh by an international player in the past 10 years at the Nissan Open. Others include England’s Nick Faldo (1997), South Africa’s Ernie Els (1999), Australia’s Robert Allenby (2001) and Adam Scott (2005) and Canada’s Mike Weir (2003-04).
In the 80-year history of the event, Adam Scott (2005) is the only player to win a 36-hole event at the Nissan Open. The only other time in tournament history that the event was shortened was in 1993 when Tom Kite won in a 54-hole contest.
Fred Couples will be looking to make his 24th cut in 26 appearances at the Nissan Open. His only missed cuts came in 1983 and 2001. Couples has 12 top-10 finishes in those starts, including wins in 1990 and 1992 and seven top-five finishes —i ncluding, most recently, a fourth-place effort in 2006.
This week is the 81st playing of the Nissan Open. Outside of the British Open, U.S. Open, PGA Championship and Masters Tournament, the Los Angeles-area event is the fourth-oldest tournament on the PGA TOUR. Only the BMW Championship (1899), Canadian Open (1904) and Valero Texas Open (1922) are older.
Although the tournament has been played on 11 different courses throughout its history, Riviera Country Club will be hosting its 45th Nissan Open. The first Nissan Open (then called the Los Angeles Open) held at Riviera Country Club was in 1929 and won by Macdonald Smith’s 1-over 285.
In the last 11 years at the Nissan Open, only five players have been able to record four rounds in the 60s at Riviera Country Club. Ernie Els did it during his victory in 1999. The other four came in 2002, when Len Mattiace won, Rory Sabbatini and Brad Faxon tied for second and Fred Funk tied for ninth.
There have been 15 playoffs at the Nissan Open, including three in the last six years. Robert Allenby won a six-man playoff in 2001, Mike Weir defeated Charles Howell III in 2003 and Adam Scott defeated Chad Campbell in the 36-hole, weather-shortened 2005 event.
Mike Weir (2003-04), Adam Scott (2005), Fred Couples (1990, 1992) and Rory Sabbatini (2006) are the only players in tournament history to earn over $1 million at the Nissan Open. Weir is No. 1 on the list, with $1,713,600 in earnings, followed by Scott, with $1,414,800. Couples has earned $1,393,345, while Sabbatini has pocketed $1,337,044. Scott’s 36-hole win was unofficial, his earnings of $864,000 were considered official.
You might want to look for an international player to emerge victorious this week at the Nissan Open. Seven of the last 10 Nissan Open’s have been won by players born outside the U.S., including the last four.
Phil Mickelson’s victory last week at Pebble Beach was the 30th of his career. Only 18 players have reached that mark in TOUR history. Vijay Singh accomplished the feat earlier this year. The first-place check also boosted Mickelson’s career earnings past the $40-million mark. Tiger Woods and Singh are the only others to do so.
Mickelson also improved his standings in the FedExCup by a whopping 115 places, but he made only the third-largest jump of the week. John Mallinger improved 133 places, but that still trailed Greg Owen who moved up 141 spots.
For the fourth consecutive week, there’s a new leader in the FedExCup race. Vijay Singh has reclaimed the top spot over John Rollins while Phil Mickelson and Kevin Sutherland join the Top-10 for the first time this year.
This week’s Nissan Open features a strong field that includes eight of the world’s Top-10 players and 20 of the Top 25. Ernie Els and Retief Goosen will both make their PGA TOUR season debuts this week in Los Angeles.
Sometimes you just have to get used to a course. Mike Weir missed the cut at the Nissan Open in each of his first four tries before winning in back-to-back seasons (2003-04).
The Nationwide Tour returns to action this week in Adelaide, Australia at the Jacob’s Creek Open. All five of the previous winners of this event have gone on to graduate later that season to the PGA TOUR. The list includes Gavin Coles, Joe Ogilvie, Euan Walters, Steven Bowditch and Paul Sheehan.
The Jacob’s Creek Open returns to Kooyona Golf Club, the site of the first three tournaments before the event moved to Royal Adelaide for the past two years. Kooyonga has played extremely difficult in the past, ranking as the second- toughest course on Tour in 2002, the toughest in 2003 and the third hardest in 2004.
The Class of 2006 continues to show great promise on the PGA TOUR. Sixteenof the 22 players are ranked among the Top 144 on the FedExCup points list with Jeff Quinney (9th) and Brandt Snedeker (17th) leading the way.
A win this week on the PGA TOUR by a Nationwide Tour alumnus would increase the number of TOUR wins by former Nationwide Tour players to 200.
Loren Roberts has a streak of 23 consecutive rounds under-par to his credit dating back to the first round of last year’s Wal-Mart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. Remarkably, he’s 82-under par over the stretch, but has not won a tournament.
Nick Price opened his Champions Tour career with a T20 finish last week at the Allianz Championship. This week, Mark O’Meara makes his debut at the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am.
More on Price: He hasn’t lost his ball-striking ability despite being a little rusty. He hit 81% of the fairways and 81% of the greens last week. He struggled a bit with the putter, though, averaging 31 putts per round.