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Golf | NISSAN OPEN NOTES

Mayfair: Don't Fret for Tiger

February 23, 2003|Shav Glick | Times Staff Writer

One thing that motivates Tiger Woods is trying to catch -- and surpass -- the golfing records of Jack Nicklaus, items such as 18 professional majors, six Masters, 17 consecutive years with at least one win, that sort of thing.

One record, if you can call it that, he shares with Nicklaus. Neither has won the Los Angeles Open, by any of its different names, nor has either won at legendary Riviera Country Club.

Woods is in his eighth L.A., or Nissan, tournament. Billy Mayfair is all that has kept him from winning, Woods having lost to him in a playoff at Valencia in 1998.

"Winning the L.A. Open is a great honor and winning it in a playoff with Tiger makes it even more memorable," Mayfair said Saturday after a disappointing 77. "Don't worry about Tiger not having won here. He'll get his share before he's through."

Nicklaus' first professional tournament was the L.A. Open at Rancho Park in 1962. He finished last among those who made the cut and collected $33.33. Woods played twice as an amateur, first when he was only 16. He missed the cut.

Nicklaus played in 12 L.A. Opens with a best finish of second in 1978, two shots behind Gil Morgan thanks to a double bogey-bogey collapse late Sunday. He also finished second at Riviera to Hal Sutton by a stroke in the 1983 PGA Championship.

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Last Tuesday, Joe Acosta, a mini-tour player from Visalia, was playing 18 holes at Los Serranos North in hopes of qualifying for his fourth L.A. Open. He shot a seven-under par 65.

Next month he will join the Nationwide Tour in Louisiana in hopes of regaining the PGA Tour card he held from 1995 to 1997.

In the meantime, he is at Riviera, playing against the best. After a 73 he is in the middle of the pack at three-over 216 with 18 holes to play. He and Brenden Pappas of Ocala, Fla., were the only qualifiers to make the 36-hole cut. "Riviera is playing tougher than I have ever seen it," he said. "You don't realize how good these guys really are until you see how they play a course like this. I'm just going to keep going in the right direction and hope I get back with them some day.

"It's so tough to get the ball close to the hole and it's tough to get it in once you get it close."

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Two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal missed the cut by 12 strokes, but Saturday he was back on the Riviera driving range, beating balls for most of the morning. It was his second consecutive week of missing the cut.

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Lofty ambitions are fine, but Chad Campbell, a third-year player from Lewisville, Texas, takes a more realistic view of success on the tour.

"My goal is to finish in the top 30 on the money list," he said after an impressive five-under 66. "I just want to put myself in position to win, because winning validates everything."

His current ranking is 70th. He was in the hunt for a win at the Hope until a 77 on the final day dropped him to a tie for 28th.

"It's tough out here because guys are shooting good scores every day. You just try to come out and do the best you can."

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Argentine Angel Cabrera, on the other hand, believes in shooting for the moon.

After firing a six-under 65, the day's low round, he is still looking toward the winner's circle although he will start today's 18 holes six shots behind Charles Howell III.

"There is always a chance -- one more round," he said. "I had a very solid round. Tomorrow is another day."

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