Fred Couples birdied the final two holes to win the Toshiba Classic at Newport Beach Country Club. The 54-year-old outlasted a packed leaderboard for his second Toshiba, and 11th career victory on the Champions Tour.
After a three-putt bogey on 11, Couples felt he was finished, but he made decisive birdies down the stretch to win, “I three-putted for bogey, which at that time I felt wow, I’m done unless I can birdie every hole. And then hit some decent shots, and birdied three of the last four.”
Colin Montgomerie fired a 62 to post the early clubhouse lead at 14-under. As many as five players were tied with Montgomerie during the final round, and he knew his score wasn’t going to hold up, “I don’t, no, no, I personally don’t. Of course I hope it does, I mean hell, but I don’t think it will, no, no, no.”
The players behind Monty did not runaway with the tournament, and no one got to 15-under until Couples birdied the eighteenth hole.
Bernhard Langer got off to a slow start, shooting an uncharacteristic two-over 37 on the front nine. He battled back with three birdies on the back nine, and had a chance to tie Couples with a birdie on the par-five finishing hole. However, Langer pulled his second shot left of the green, chipped to 20-feet, and barely missed his birdie putt on the low side.
After the round, Langer said he played well on the front nine, but the bounces didn’t go his way, “From the fifth hole on, I played really good golf. Hit a beautiful shot into five and six and seven and eight and nine, and I’m one over par. Every shot into the green was really really good, just one stopped, the next one bounced ten yards forward, and just never got it close…but played very well and just made a bad swing on 18.”
The par-3 seventeenth sunk the hopes of Kenny Perry, Scott Dunlap, Steve Pate, and Kirk Triplett among others. Perry, Pate, and Dunlap bogied the seventeenth, and Triplett doubled the 197-yard hole.
Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer, and Steve Pate tied for second place at 14-under.
Kenny Perry, Mark O’Meara, Michael Allen, Jeff Hart, and Scott Dunlap tied for fifth place at 13-under.