Golf Takes Center Stage With Toshiba Classic

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Fred Couples shows off his trophy for winning last year’s Toshiba Classic.

As the calendar flips to March, the sports world in Newport Beach turns to golf and Newport Beach Country Club’s Toshiba Classic.

The annual week of events kicks off Monday and will wrap up Sunday as 2010 champion Fred Couples aims to defend his title.  The Toshiba Classic is the only PGA Champions Tour event held in Orange County and boasts such players as Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman, Hale Irwin, Lee Trevino and many more.

The tournament began in 1995 as the Toshiba Senior Classic, and since has become a Newport Beach institution.  Past champions include Hale Irwin (1998, 2002), Gary McCord, Jay Haas, Langer, and possibly the most famous face on the tour, last year’s champion Couples.

After pro-am shotgun starts Monday through Thursday, the main tournament will begin play on Friday with an awards ceremony on the 18th green Sunday.

You can visit the Toshiba Classic website for tickets to any of the events during the week as well as parking and shuttle information.  The event is a great way to get up close and personal with some of the legends of the game and take a stroll around Newport Beach Country Club’s beautiful course.

The Toshiba Classic has become one of the favorites for the guys on the tour and this year’s tournament has a strong field that includes the likes of Tommy Armour III, Paul Azinger, Corey Pavin, Tom Kite, Curtis Strange, and Orange County resident Mark O’Meara to name a few.

Mark Calcavecchia and Michael Allen will be making their Champions Tour 2011 debuts at the Toshiba Classic, and Ian Baker-Finch will be playing in his first-ever Champions Tour event.

This is Calcavecchia’s second year on the Champions Tour, but first full season.  A 13-time winner on the PGA Tour, Calcavecchia played in 14 Champions Tour events in 2010 with his best finish being a secondd at the 3M Championship in Minnesota.  He’s also made a cut on the PGA Tour this year, at the Bob Hope Classic, and tied for 33rd when he shot in the 60s all five rounds and posted an impressive 17-under.

Allen turned 50 in 2009 and shortly after turned a sponsor’s exemption at the Senior PGA Championship into his first Champions Tour victory becoming just the 14th player in tour history to win in his Champions Tour debut.  Both Calcavecchia and Allen played last weekend in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where Allen tied for 60th.

Baker-Finch, perhaps best known in the golf community for winning the 1991 British Open at Royal Birkdale and being a commentator on CBS and TNT, noted a while back that he wanted to debut at the Toshiba.  He made his “senior” debut at the end of 2010 when he tied for 15th at the Handa Australian Senior Open at Royal Perth Golf Club.

Fred Couples teeing off in the 2010 Toshiba Classic.

Last year, Fred Couples astonished the golf world in his Toshiba debut by shooting 18-under-par and winning the tournament by four strokes.  Couples went on to win four events in 2010, set the Champion Tour’s scoring average record (67.96), finished second on the money list and the Charles Schwab Cup points list to Bernhard Langer, and was named Champions Tour Rookie of the Year.

The major charity of the event is the Hoag Hospital Foundation.  This year’s tournament will also benefit the Mary and Dick Allen Diabetes Center at Hoag.  Over the past 13 years, the Toshiba Classic has generated $13 million for charity, the most on the tour.

For ticket prices, parking information, and other information regarding the Toshiba Classic visit the new and improved website at http://www.toshibaclassic.com/

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