LOS ANGELES -- If Robert Allenby is involved in a playoff, you might as well hand him the trophy. And after a rain-soaked final round of the Nissan Open on Sunday, many probably were willing to do so.
They didn't have to. The Australian golfer put his approach shot 6 feet from the cup on the first playoff hole, while the other five golfers in the playoff were struggling to find the green.
Allenby quickly stepped up and sank the putt to claim his third PGA Tour victory, winning with a birdie on the first playoff hole, the 18th, to claim the $612,000 first-place prize money. Allenby and five other golfers, Dennis Paulson, Toshi Izawa, Jeff Sluman, Bob Tway, and Brandel Chamblee finished at 8-under 276.
On his second shot in the playoff, from about 225 yards, Allenby choked down on his 3-wood and belted it right on line, through the driving rain and just over a hump on the green, the ball stopping 6 feet from the hole.
"To be able to pull it off in those conditions -- pouring rain, five guys on your heels -- that's going to be a shot that stays in my memory bank a long time," Allenby said.
It was Allenby's third victory on the PGA Tour and all three have come in a playoff. Allenby has also won four of his 10 international events in a playoff. It was the first time a 72-hole event had a six-man playoff on the PGA Tour. Allenby shot a final round 1-under 70. Izawa had the lowest round of the day with a 66. Chamblee had a 67, Tway a 68, Sluman a 69 and a Paulson a 70.
"There's more pressure with six guys," said Allenby. "Five other guys could play some awesome shots. You always have to expect the unexpected."
Last year Allenby won when he beat Craig Stadler on the fourth hole of sudden death at the Houston Open in April at the TPC at The Woodlands. The second victory came three months later when Allenby defeated Nick Price on the first hole of sudden death at the Westin Open.
"It's funny, I seem like I am the guy that always comes up with that shot to win," Allenby said. "I know there probably will be a time when I don't."
This playoff ended quickly. Allenby put his approach shot to 6 feet on the 451-yard, par 4 18th hole. Other than Tway, he was the only person on the green. Tway's approach was about 40 feet from the hole and his birdie putt was 4-feet short. Paulson hit his approach shot to the right of the green and his next shot went 10 feet by the hole. Izawa had to lay up when his drive went in the left rough. Chamblee and Sluman were both short of the green and their birdie attempts did not come within 3 feet of the hole.
"I am very happy with the way I played," Izawa said. "I am happy to be in the playoff."
The one player everyone expected to be in the playoff was Davis Love III, who went into the final round with a three-stroke advantage. He stumbled out of contention with a double bogey on the 15th, a bogey on the 16th when he missed a 3-foot par putt, and a meaningless bogey on the last.
The consolation prize for Love was a $500,000 bonus for winning the West Coast Swing, but he didn't stick around for the presentation.
The six-way playoff proved to be a fitting end to the wild West Coast Swing, which featured record scores, crazy weather (snow in Tucson, sunshine at Pebble Beach) and no victories for Tiger Woods, coming off his sensational 2000.
Woods wore his cap backward, but that didn't help with the rain or his luck. He had an even-par 71 and finished in a tie for 13th, three strokes out of the playoff. Woods has yet to record a top-3 finish this year in five tournaments.