Baker-Finch making Champions debut at Toshiba1991 British Open champion Ian Baker-Finch will tee it up for the first time on the Champions Tour at the Toshiba Classic.February 22, 2011
PGA TOUR staff
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- For Mark Calcavecchia and Michael Allen, it's merely filling a gap on their Champions Tour resumes. For Ian Baker-Finch, it's a beginning to his Champions Tour resume. Regardless of how they view the Toshiba Classic, all three will make their debuts at the 17th-annual Classic March 7-13 at Newport Beach Country Club.
In Baker-Finch's case, the Toshiba Classic marks his Champions Tour debut. The 1991 British Open champion and popular CBS and TNT analyst turned 50 last October and marked Toshiba as an event he wanted to play even before he hit that milestone.
"I'm looking forward to playing and I'm nervous already," said Baker-Finch, who said he plans on playing a handful of events around his CBS schedule. "That said, it will be lots of fun being back with all my old friends from the old tour days. I have low expectations as it's been a long time since I've been competitive, but I know I'll have a fun time."
Best known for capturing the 1991 British Open at Royal Birkdale -- one of his two PGA TOUR victories and 16 worldwide victories -- the genial Baker-Finch made his senior debut late in 2010 when he finished T15 at the Handa Australian Senior Open at Royal Perth GC in his native Australia. His last competitive round came at the 2009 Crowne Plaza Colonial, the other event he won on Tour. Playing there on status as a past event champion, Baker-Finch missed the cut.
Calcavecchia, meanwhile, is in his first full year and second season on the Champions Tour. A 13-time winner on the PGA TOUR, which includes the 1989 British Open, Calcavecchia played in 14 Champions Tour events in 2010. His best finish among his six top-10s was a second at the 3M Championship in Minnesota and the consistent performances lifted Calcavecchia to 18th on the money list. He currently rests 8th on the all-time money list with nearly $25 million in career earnings.
This season, Calcavecchia already made one cut on the PGA TOUR -- a T33 finish at the Bob Hope Classic, where the witty and outgoing Calcavecchia carded all five rounds in the 60s (69-69-69-68-68--17-under-par, 343).
Allen turned 50 in 2009 and wasted little time making the most of the milestone. He parlayed a sponsor's exemption at the Senior PGA Championship into his first Champions Tour victory. In so doing, Allen became the 14th player in tour history to win in his Champions Tour debut.
Like Calcavecchia, Allen played the weekend in a PGA TOUR event this season, finishing T60 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Allen, however, owns a Champions Tour top-10 finish this year, placing T8 at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai
The $1.7 million Toshiba Classic, the only Southern California event on the Champions Tour, awards a $255,000 winner's check and is televised on Golf Channel on Friday, March 11, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. PT, Saturday, March 12, from 3:30-6:30 p.m. PT, and Sunday, March 13, from 4-6:30 p.m. PT.
Daily tickets for the Toshiba Classic are $20 if purchased in advance of tournament week, or $25 at the gate. Season patron badges, providing admission to the grounds and clubhouse for practice rounds and the tournament, are $100. Daily patron tickets, providing access to the grounds and the clubhouse on a single day, are $40. All tickets can be obtained at www.ToshibaClassic.com, while tickets and corporate packages are also available by calling (949) 660-1001.
In the 2010 Toshiba Classic, Fred Couples shot an impressive 18-under-par 195 in his Classic debut, and his third Champions Tour start, to win by four shots. His Toshiba Classic triumph stood out in a year where Couples won four events, set the Champions Tour's new scoring average record (67.96), finished second to 2008 Toshiba Classic champion Bernhard Langer on the Champions Tour's 2010 money list and Charles Schwab Cup points standings, and was named Champions Tour Rookie of the Year.
The Toshiba Classic's lead charity and operator is Hoag Hospital Foundation and the 2011 tournament will benefit the Mary and Dick Allen Diabetes Center at Hoag. During the last 13 years, the Toshiba Classic generated more than $13 million for charity, the most on the Champions Tour. Hoag Hospital Foundation also received the inaugural PGA Champions Tour Charity of the Year Award in 1998.
Toshiba Classic supporters can congregate online at official Classic fan pages on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ToshibaClassic) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/ToshibaClassic). Fans can also tap into archived Toshiba Classic videos through the Classic's YouTube page (www.youtube.com/user/TheToshibaClassic). Register to become a fan or follower of the Toshiba Classic at each fan page, chat with new friends and golf fans, and stay updated on all tournament and player information.