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Riviera has a solid field, but no Woods

February 10, 2007|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

Tiger Woods just said no to the Nissan Open on Friday, deciding against playing the PGA Tour event he has entered the most times in his pro career without winning.

Woods did not commit to the 144-player entry list by the afternoon deadline -- although Phil Mickelson did -- and will miss playing the tournament at Riviera Country Club for only the second time in his 11 full years as a professional.

As a result, Woods' string of seven consecutive PGA Tour victories will be on the line at his next tournament, the $8-million Accenture Match Play Championship, which begins Feb. 21 at the Gallery near Tucson.

Even without Woods, eight of the top 10 and 15 of the top 20 are entered at Riviera. The list includes second-ranked Jim Furyk, No. 3 Adam Scott, No. 4 Ernie Els, No. 5 Retief Goosen, No. 6 Mickelson, No. 7 Vijay Singh, No. 8 Luke Donald and No. 9 Padraig Harrington.

Henrik Stenson, who is ranked 10th, isn't playing, but the field includes 11th-ranked Geoff Ogilvy, No. 12 Sergio Garcia, No. 13 Trevor Immelman, No. 15 David Howell, No. 16 Nick O'Hern, No. 18 David Toms and No. 20 Chris DiMarco.

Last year at Riviera, Woods withdrew before the start of the third round because of flu. It was the third time he had withdrawn from an event and he received last place and unofficial money -- $8,925 -- for making the cut. He shot 69-74 for one-over 143.

One of Woods' other withdrawals was at Pebble Beach in 1998, when the third and last round was played in August, six months after the second round, because of weather, and Woods didn't come back to play it. He also withdrew from the 1995 U.S. Open at Shinnecock as an amateur when he hurt his wrist after playing three holes of the second round.

His 11 appearances at Riviera -- two as an amateur -- are his most starts at any tournament without a victory, with four winless appearances -- one as an amateur -- at the Barclays Classic the next highest.

Woods has four top 10s in his nine pro appearances at the Nissan Open.

He lost in a playoff to Billy Mayfair in 1998, when the tournament was held at Valencia Country Club, and tied for second in 1999, two shots behind Els. His worst finish was when he tied for 20th in 1997.

Rory Sabbatini is the defending champion in the $5.2-million event, with $936,000 going to the winner.

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thomas.bonk@latimes.com

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