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Weir rallies from 7 back for win

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 24, 2003

LOS ANGELES -- Mike Weir shot 5-under 66 and headed to the practice range as a mere formality, never expecting his seven-stroke comeback against Charles Howell III to amount to anything more than a consolation prize.

Weir, of all people, should have known better.

The little left-hander is quickly gaining a reputation as the comeback Canadian.

Weir won the Nissan Open on Sunday by holing an 8-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole, the second time this month the 32-year-old has cut into a large deficit in the final round to win.

"Being seven shots back, especially with Nick (Price) and Charles up there, I was definitely surprised," Weir said. "I wanted to play solid and shoot a good number. Winning wasn't on my mind."

Weir made up a four-shot deficit in the final round to win the Bob Hope Classic four weeks ago. In fact, he has trailed going into the last round in all five of his PGA Tour victories.

"Everything just fell my way," said Weir, who earned $810,000 and moved to the top of the money list at just more than $2-million.

Howell led by three over Price at the start of an overcast day, maintained that cushion going into the back nine, then watched it slowly slip away.

"If I had played like I should have, this never would have gone to a playoff," said Howell, who played the final seven holes in 2 over and closed with 73. "Never at any point did I think I wasn't going to win the tournament."

It looked like he had no chance on the 311-yard par-4 10th, which invites players to drive the green and makes them pay for it if they miss to the right.

Howell hit driver and went to the right.

Weir played it safe with a 5-wood, then hit a sand wedge over the corner of a bunker to the skinny green, stopping 8 feet away.

Howell hit the best shot of the tournament. His 35-yard bunker shot landed on the fringe and trickled 6 feet away. But after Weir made his putt, Howell's bid to extend the playoff ended when his putt stayed left.

He didn't make a putt longer than 5 feet in the round.

Both players finished at 9-under 275, leading to the first playoff on tour this year.

Price had a share of the lead until bogeys on the 15th and 16th. He finished two strokes behind after shooting 72, tied with Fred Funk (68).

Tiger Woods had the best round of the day, 6-under 65 to finish tied for fifth. It was the eighth consecutive top-10 finish for Woods, dating to the 2002 British Open.

Woods has played the Nissan Open six times without winning, the most at any PGA Tour event. He didn't lose his sense of humor. "It definitely was a goal to get in the top 10 so I can get Ryder Cup points," he said.

ANZ LADIES MASTERS: England's Laura Davies won the event for the third time in Gold Coast, Australia, taking advantage of Karrie Webb's final-hole bogey for a one-stroke victory. Davies holed a 12-foot par putt on No. 18 for 4-under 68 and a 13-under 203 total in the rain-shortened tournament. Webb shot 70 to tie for second with fellow Australian Rebecca Stevenson (68).

MALAYSIAN OPEN: India's Arjun Atwal shot 5-under 66 for a four-stroke victory in the European PGA Tour/Asian PGA Tour event at Kuala Lumpur.

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