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Los Angeles Open Golf Tournament

SPORTS
February 16, 2007 | Thomas Bonk, Times Staff Writer
Rory Sabbatini likes to play fast, which is like saying that John Daly enjoys games of chance, so when the defending champion drew a 7:40 a.m. first-round Nissan Open tee time Thursday, he was off quickly -- in the fourth group of the day. That pleased Sabbatini, but probably not as much as his two-under-par 69. Sabbatini, the defending champion, had two bogeys on the front but said he found the firm greens more to his liking on the back.
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SPORTS
February 16, 2007 | Thomas Bonk, Times Staff Writer
As the crow flies, it's 99 miles, and probably a week, from McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad to Santa Monica Airport. Crows aren't very fast. As Phil flies, it's an entirely different flight plan. Still 99 miles, but try 30 minutes. The Mickelson Method of commuting to golf tournaments got off to a flying start Thursday. He left his house in Rancho Santa Fe at 5:15 a.m.
SPORTS
February 15, 2007 | Thomas Bonk, Times Staff Writer
Is this global golf thing spinning on its axis, or what? That's probably as good an explanation that while three of the top four players in the world rankings are from the United States -- Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson -- only 13 other U.S. players are in the top 50. So there is a question how to mark the occasion this week.
SPORTS
February 15, 2007 | J.A. Adande
What's good for the Goose (and the Big Easy and Lefty) isn't good for the grander scheme of things at the Nissan Open. Tiger Woods isn't here, which means this weekend's golf tournament is free of the grip he has held on the last seven PGA Tour events he has entered and it's wide open for Retief Goosen, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and everyone else. It also means they're shedding tears in the CBS production truck. When Woods played on Sunday in 2006 the television ratings averaged 3.
SPORTS
February 14, 2007 | Thomas Bonk, Times Staff Writer
Nestled comfortably under a tree branch, beside a bed of flowers, is a new brass plaque embedded in stone just behind the fourth-tee box at Riviera Country Club. The inscription quotes Ben Hogan: "The greatest par 3 hole in America." There's not a drop of water to worry about, or a tree or a ditch either. It's simply 236 yards of straight-ahead trouble, if you can measure misery in yardage. Hogan would routinely hit a three-wood there, more if the wind was blowing in.
SPORTS
February 12, 2007 | Thomas Bonk, Times Staff Writer
When he won the Nissan Open last year, Rory Sabbatini joined a small group of players in their 20s with at least three PGA Tour victories. In fact, only Sergio Garcia, 27 at the time, had won more, with six wins. Sabbatini turned 30 in April, wound up making 19 cuts in 24 tournaments last year and earned a career-high $2.86 million. His best season of the eight since he turned professional for the 1999 campaign began at Riviera Country Club, where Sabbatini hopes to make the most of his return.
SPORTS
February 11, 2007 | Thomas Bonk, Times Staff Writer
When 144 PGA Tour pros arrive at Riviera Country Club for the $5.2-million Nissan Open, they are going to find something different -- every bunker has been renovated. "We've had a long year trying to improve the course," course superintendent Matt Morton said. The faces of the bunkers have all been enhanced, and there is new drainage in each one. Plus, every bunker has new sand, Caltega VII USGA specification silica sand.
SPORTS
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.
SPORTS
February 7, 2007 | THOMAS BONK
Where's that Tiger? Apparently, not at Riviera, where Tiger Woods doesn't have next week's Nissan Open on his schedule. Woods, who played last week at Dubai, returned to his home in Isleworth, Fla., Tuesday morning and on Woods' website soon after, he listed his next tournament as the Accenture Match Play Championship at Tucson, the week after Riviera. That would mean that Woods' winning streak of seven PGA Tour events would carry over until Tucson. "We have to see if he plays L.A.
SPORTS
February 20, 2006 | Thomas Bonk, Times Staff Writer
Notorious for fast play and slow burns, Rory Sabbatini has spent the first two months of this year learning to brake and chill, but after playing survivor Sunday at Riviera Country Club, there doesn't seem to be much he can do about becoming the hottest player on the PGA Tour. Sabbatini reached out and made the Nissan Open his third PGA Tour title, holding on even though it was slipping from his grasp as a cold offshore wind slapped him in the face on the back nine.
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