Adam Scott got the trophy at Riviera; now he wants the win

© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Art Spander

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — They gave Adam Scott the trophy but not the win. He came in first in a tournament that didn’t count. Now, 15 years later, in the same event, with a different name, Scott has the chance to do it again, this time officially.

It was a sunny Monday of an otherwise very rainy week in 2005 — “I remember spending the most amount of time ever in a locker room that week,” said Scott. Officials decided to stage a playoff between Scott and Chad Campbell. It ended after one hole.

“You got the win,” said Scott, “and then you’re told it’s not a win.”

That was because only 36 holes were played — well, 37 after the playoff — and to be official there must be 54 holes.

That’s how many have been played this year in the tournament called the Genesis, though 15 years ago it was the Hyundai (both cars are built by the same Korean firm). Three rounds in beautiful weather at famed Riviera, with Scott, Rory McIlroy and Matt Kuchar tied for the lead with scores of 203, 10 under par.

Scott shot a 4-under 67 Saturday, closing with a birdie 3 on 18, McIlroy a 68 and Kuchar, who’s been no worse than tied for the lead after any of the three days, a 70.

And what about that Tiger Woods guy, who’s co-hosting this tournament, the one he’s played more times without a win (this is the 14th)? Starting at the 10th hole, he went 5 over par from 11 through 15, shot 76 and is at 5-over 218.

“I hit the ball quite a few times,” said Woods. “Especially on the greens.”

The greens at Riviera, a century-old course in a canyon about a mile from the Pacific, are what make it yet another star in southern California.

“Anytime you get them firm,” said Kuchar, a reference to so many years of soggy conditions, “it’s tough to get the ball close to the hole; a golf course just plays that much harder.”

But Kuchar and other leaders have no complaints about Riviera, where the fairways are planted in Kikuyu, a grass brought in from South Africa.

“I absolutely love the course,” said Kuchar. “I think it gets rave reviews across the board by everybody. You see a great leaderboard up there. It’s one that’s truly withstood the test of time. It’s fun to see it this way in firm and fast conditions,”

Unlike 2005. That’s when Scott was 24 and hadn’t yet won the Masters. He had come from Australia, gone to Nevada-Las Vegas briefly and was taking instruction from Butch Harmon, who then was also working with Tiger.

Having the tournament that year declared null and void, Scott said, is not to be dismissed. “I think it is just a bit of motivation for me to win (Sunday) and have an official victory at Riviera and the Genesis Open, and I think that would be extremely satisfying for me.”

The three leaders will be together in the final grouping, which is great for the CBS-TV audience. Scott and McIlroy have won majors, Kuchar the world match play and The Players.

And great for Scott.

“It will be fantastic,” he said. “I love watching (McIlroy) play. I’ve enjoyed playing many rounds with him. And he’s certainly one of the benchmarks of the game at the moment, and it will be good for me to have a little bit of insight where that benchmark is at and how I stack up.”

McIlroy, of course, just moved to No. 1 in the world rankings. He has won a British Open, a U.S. Open and two PGA Championships and, next to Woods, arguably is the sport’s best attraction.

“I typically didn’t play the West Coast swing earlier in my career,” said McIlroy, a Northern Irishman who also has a home in Florida. “When I got to this course I regretted that decision. The course is phenomenal. The whole place. I mean, staying in Santa Monica and doing all that, it’s a really nice week, but obviously topped off by the fact we’re playing one of the best courses we play all year.”

The one where Adam Scott got the trophy but not the win.