CARLSBAD, CALIF., JAN. 17 -- Steve Pate, tied with Larry Nelson through three holes today, was declared the winner of the $500,000 Tournament of Champions when hail, fierce winds and heavy rain forced cancellation of the final round at the La Costa Country Club.
Pate led Nelson, his playing partner, by one stroke entering the final round but Nelson birdied No. 3 to grab a share of the top spot. However, all of the day's play was wiped out by officials, who said a similar forecast for Monday prevented them from pushing the fourth round back a day.
Pate, who never trailed after an opening-round 6-under-par 66, won $90,000 in taking the inaugural event of the PGA Tour season. He finished at 14-under 202 for 54 holes, edging Nelson by one stroke and Canadian Dave Barr and Briton Nick Faldo by three.
Play was delayed four times for a total of almost four hours. A morning deluge, accompanied by gusts of up to 40 mph, forced a three-hour suspension. After brief sunshine, hail battered the course and sent golfers scurrying for cover.
Dave Hill won the seniors portion of the tournament by one stroke over Al Geiberger and Miller Barber. He earned $60,000 for finishing at 211, despite trailing Geiberger by a stroke through nine holes today.
Only twelve of the 49 players in the field were able to complete their rounds. Defending champion Mac O'Grady, who had an 86, played his round wearing ski goggles.
Nelson, the winner of last year's PGA Championship, appeared poised to overtake Pate for the victory. As Nelson shot a 68 Saturday, Pate stumbled, bogeying three of the final five holes.
During last year's Walt Disney World Classic, Pate led after three rounds but was overtaken by Nelson, who made up six strokes by shooting a 63.
The victory was the second on the tour for Pate, who earned his largest paycheck in a pro career that began in 1983.