When the skies dumped more than 5 inches of rain on the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, it wasn't just the world's top golfers who got soaked.

Nissan Motors USA and Countrywide Financial Corp., which underwrote much of the Nissan Open tournament's $8 million cost, lost television exposure when the tournament was shortened to 36 holes and canceled entirely on Saturday, Feb. 19, which would have been one of the highest days for viewership.

Also losing out were scores of companies that bought hospitality suites and tents for their clients. Other casualties were the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce, which coordinates the tournament, and ABC Sports, which along with the ESPN and USA cable channels, aired what should have been a 72-hole event.

When it was finally over on Monday, a day later than scheduled, Adam Scott earned $826,000 after winning the tournament in a sudden-death playoff. His score did not go down as an official victory because the PGA does not recognize tournaments with fewer than 54 holes played.

While the truncated tournament was by any measure extraordinary the first 36-hole event on the PGA Tour since 1996 and the first sudden-death playoff to decide a rain-shortened event since 2000 it can be considered a cautionary tale in the complicated world of sports marketing.

Dozens of companies, including Nissan, IBM, Bank of America and several smaller firms, reward their top clients, customers and employees with tickets and access to hospitality tents. While there are no firm numbers, it's acknowledged that the weekend turnout was far below normal levels.

During Monday's one-hole playoff, the gallery at greenside numbered around 200, compared with many thousands on a typical Sunday afternoon's final round.

"Most of the businesspeople realize that this is a good cause and even though they may not have gotten all of the entertaining and all of the advertising they would have if we had had better weather, they're not going to cancel their involvement," said tournament director Tom Pulchinski. "They realize that sometimes bad things happen to good courses."

Umbrella marketing

California Overnight, a Phoenix-based delivery service, had bought a skybox above the 18th hole and a beverage tent to host 300 of its most loyal customers. The shipping company would not disclose how much it paid, but Marketing Director Laura Klassen said that the money was well spent, rain or shine.


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