Nick Faldo got wet. Jack Nicklaus got antsy. And, finally, Curtis Strange got a victory.

"It's always great to beat the best player in the world," Strange said after he'd gone four extra holes yesterday to subdue Faldo of England in the Skins Game at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif.

Strange, whose last official victory came in the 1989 U.S. Open, assured himself another appearance in the four-man, two-day, made-for-television 18-hole event.

Strange defended his Skins Game title with $220,000 in earnings, almost as much as he made in a dropoff season in which he placed 53rd on the PGA Tour's 1990 money-winning list.

Perhaps more important, he came out of a six-month slump with some of his best golf of the year.

"Now I can relax, get ready for '91 and have something positive to think about," Strange said.

He also has some good fortune to think about: a fairway shot that nestled close to the flag while Strange was scolding a photographer for snapping his camera during the golfer's backswing; a barefoot shot from the rocks that set up a critical birdie; and in the end, Faldo's mistake on the fourth extra hole.

With $70,000 at stake and Nicklaus and Greg Norman eliminated from the playoff, Faldo hit a 6-iron second shot in the water on the 18th hole. That set it up for Strange to play safely to the middle of the green and two-putt from long range for a winning par.

Nicklaus, the only man to play in all eight Skins Games, was shut out in Saturday's first nine holes. He won two skins and $70,000 with a two-putt par on No. 14 when Strange missed a six-footer.

Nicklaus had a chance to pick up another $35,000 with a four-foot birdie putt on 17. But he backed away when an ant crawled on his ball, marked it, removed the insect and then missed the putt.

Faldo, winner of the Masters and British Open this season, won $70,000 Saturday, but nothing in the last day's play. He said he had stomach flu overnight.

Norman opened up birdie-birdie yesterday, winning $25,000 with a 10-foot putt on the 10th hole. His birdie on 11 was matched by Strange and the $25,000 prize was carried over to the 12th. Strange won there, collecting $50,000 with an eight-foot birdie putt.

Nicklaus was the next winner, on the 14th. Strange won the next with a 12-foot putt and Norman the next with a 15-footer.

The 17th and 18th were tied, setting up the playoff, and Strange's adventures in and on the rocks.

His drive on the first playoff hole came to rest among some boulders fronting the water on the left. "I thought it was all over," he said.

But he took off his shoes and socks for better footing on the rocks, and got a wedge shot up and out from 125 yards away. The ball rolled to about six feet from the flag.

After Faldo had made a 12-footer for birdie, Strange put his in and extended the playoff. Nicklaus and Norman were eliminated there.

Faldo and Strange both birdied the next hole, and both parred the next, Strange getting up and down from a greenside bunker.

Then Faldo hit into the water.

"It's over and done," he said as the water rippled.

World Open: Mike Reid shot 2-under-par 70 for a two-stroke victory in the $923,000 tournament in Kaimoncho, Japan. Reid, with 274 for four rounds at the Ibusuki Golf Club, earned $166,000.

Seniors: Home course pro Shigeru Uchida, ahead all the way, won the Imperial Wing tournament in Seki, Japan, by two strokes over Orville Moody and Hisashi Suzumura. With a 70, Uchida posted a 54-hole total of 7-under-par 209 and received $42,000.