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Nissan Open
Valencia Country Club
Valencia, California
26th February - 1st March 1998

Par 72 Prize Money $2.1 million

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Mayfair wins playoff to deny Tiger Woods

Valencia, California, 1st March 1998 - Billy Mayfair drained a five-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff with hometown favorite Tiger Woods today to win his first PGA Tour event since 1995, capturing the $2.1 million Nissan Open at the Valencia Country Club.

Woods's third shot at the first playoff hole from about 30 yards short of the green on the par-5 18th went past the cup and he missed a 15-foot birdie putt. Mayfair, who had wedged close from 90 yards out, cashed in with his putt, taking the $378,000 first prize for his first win since the 1995 Tour Championship and fourth of his career. Woods earned $226,000 for finishing second.

Mayfair entered the final round one stroke behind third-round leader Tommy Armour III. He fired a 4-under-par 67 to overtake Armour, but Woods, playing in the threesome ahead of Mayfair, shot a 66 -- matching the best round of the day -- to post a 12-under 272 total. Mayfair forced the playoff when he got up and down for birdie from the left greenside bunker on 18. Earlier, Woods made an up-and-down birdie from the right greenside bunker.

Woods, the 1997 PGA Player of the Year, again was stymied in his quest for his first PGA Tour win of the season. After winning four events last year, including The Masters, the 22-year-old Cypress, Calif., native has finished tied for second at the Mercedes Championships in January and third at the Buick Invitational in February.

The loss was Woods's first in three PGA Tour playoffs. He won the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational in a playoff over Davis Love III and the 1997 Mercedes Championships in a playoff over Tom Lehman. Woods also won in a playoff earlier this year at the Johnnie Walker Classic, a PGA European Tour event played in Thailand.

The final round was see-saw affair, as Mayfair, Woods, Armour, Scott Hoch, Stephen Ames, and Bob Estes all either shared or held the lead at various times.

Ames carded a 68 for a 9-under 275 and finished in the top three for the first time in his PGA Tour career. He tied for fifth at last year's British Open and won the 1996 Benson & Hedges on the European Tour.

Defending champion Nick Faldo, trying to become the sixth repeat winner of this event, finished tied for 43rd at 3-over 287.

The tournament temporarily moved from its usual home, the Riviera Country Club, which will host the 1998 U.S. Senior Open in July. The Nissan Open returns to Riviera next year.

The par-72 Valencia Country Club course measures 6,977 yards.

First prize is $378,000.