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Olazabal, Garcia head Nissan field

Feb. 13, 2002 at 1:44 PM   |   Comments

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- The Nissan Open was

expected to focus on homegrown talent. But the spotlight now

will be on some international stars.

Spaniards Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia will be out to

continue their success on American soil when the $3.7 million

event begins Thursday at the newly restored Riviera Country

Club.

The tournament lost a bit of its luster when Tiger Woods, who

grew up in Southern California, withdrew earlier this week.

Woods said he has been ill for two weeks and needs some time

away from the golf course.

The Nissan Open was Woods' first PGA Tour event which he played

as a 16-year-old amateur. It also is the only tournament he has

played at least four times as a professional without winning.

Woods settled for fifth place at last week's Buick Invitational,

an event won by Olazabal with a 7-under-par 65 in the final

round.

Coming off a fifth-place finish two weeks ago at Pebble Beach,

Olazabal claimed his sixth career PGA Tour victory and the

$648,000 first-place prize. Olazabal, who has 22 international

victories, had not captured a PGA Tour event since the 1999

Masters -- his second career win at Augusta.

Garcia will play in his third PGA event of the year and his

first in over a month. He captured the Mercedes Open in early

January for his third career PGA title and was not in contention

the following week at the Sony Open.

Other top international stars competing this week include Darren

Clarke, Lee Westwood and Bernhard Langer.

American John Daly has enjoyed a career revival and will try to

close in on a spot in the Masters this week. While winless

since the 1995 British Open, Daly has finished fourth in his

last two PGA starts. He is No. 40 in the world rankings with

the top 50 after the Honda Classic from March 7-10 earning a

trip to Augusta.

The defending champion is Australia's Robert Allenby, who won a

six-man playoff, tying the PGA record for most players in extra

holes. Allenby won by hitting a 3-wood in driving rain to set

up a five-foot birdie putt.

The last repeat winner was Corey Pavin in 1994-95.

The par-71, 6,987-yard course has been returned to its original

design by lengthening holes, enlarging several greens and adding

other features.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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