|TWO-TIME REIGNING CHAMPIONS TOUR PLAYER OF THE YEAR BERNHARD LANGER LEADS FEARSOME FOURSOME OF COMMITMENTS TO TOSHIBA CLASSIC|
TWO-TIME REIGNING CHAMPIONS TOUR PLAYER OF THE YEAR
2009 Charles Schwab Cup Champion Loren Roberts,
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Feb. 16, 2010 - All of the hardware holders from the 2009 Champions Tour will officially take up residence at Newport Beach Country Club in three weeks as Bernhard Langer, Loren Roberts, Jay Haas and Fred Funk committed to the Toshiba Classic, March 1-7.
The $1.7 million Toshiba Classic, the only Southern California event on the Champions Tour, awards a $255,000 winner's check and will be televised on Golf Channel on Friday, March 5 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. PT and Saturday and Sunday, March 6-7, from 3:30-6 p.m. PT. What is shaping up to be the highest-caliber field on this year's Champions Tour to date has turned winning the 2010 Classic into a veritable tour de force.
Langer, the 2008 Toshiba Classic champion and 1985 and 1993 Masters champion, swept the Champions Tour Player of the Year award, Arnold Palmer Award (money list champion) and Byron Nelson Award (low scoring average) in 2008 and 2009. Roberts, meanwhile, won last year's Charles Schwab Cup points title for the second time in three years.
Roberts (Senior British Open), Funk (U.S. Senior Open) and Haas (Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship) represent three of the Champions Tour's five major champions in 2009. Together, the foursome owns 35 Champions Tour titles in the last four years.
Further illustrating the recent Champions Tour dominance among this foursome, Haas was the 2006 and 2007 Champions Tour Player of the Year and Arnold Palmer Award winner and the 2006 Charles Schwab Cup points champion. Haas won the 2007 Toshiba Classic with a tournament-record score of 19-under-par 194 and was denied from becoming the Classic's first back-to-back winner after losing to Langer in an epic, seven-hole playoff minutes before sundown.
"The field is unbelievable. Maybe the best we've ever had," Toshiba Classic Tournament Executive Director Jeff Purser said. "It's a virtual Hall-of-Fame coming out party every year and I don't think there's anything better for the true golf fan than the Champions Tour and the players we have now."
Langer, the 10-time European Ryder Cup member and 2004 Ryder Cup captain, was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2002 and was named the inaugural No. 1 player in the world when the Official World Golf Rankings were introduced in 1986. Also the Champions Tour Rookie of the Year in 2007, Langer tallied eight Champions Tour titles in three years.
Born in San Luis Obispo, Roberts owns four major championships from 11 Champions Tour wins and established his presence among the Tour's balance of power in his first full Champions Tour season in 2006, when he became the only player in Tour history to open a season with three straight victories.
Haas, who flew into Palm Springs from Hawaii on a red-eye flight to witness the first PGA TOUR victory for his son, Bill, at the Bob Hope Classic, expects to return to Newport Beach CC after a year's hiatus. Ever the family man, the 14-time Champions Tour winner withdrew from last year's Toshiba Classic in order to stay home South Carolina and follow his daughter's run to a state high school basketball championship.
Funk, an eight-time PGA TOUR winner and five-time Champions Tour winner, is one of the most personable players in golf with a knack for high performance on the largest, most competitive Champions Tour stages. Of his last eight Champions Tour majors, he has won twice (2009 U.S. Senior Open and 2008 JELD-WEN Tradition) and placed runner-up three times (2009 Senior British Open, 2008 Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship and 2008 U.S. Senior Open). He tied for fourth place in last year's Toshiba Classic.
In 2007, Funk became the third player ever, after Raymond Floyd and Craig Stadler, to win on the PGA and Champions tours in the same year. He led the Turtle Bay Championship wire-to-wire and won by a record 11 strokes, and then won the PGA TOUR's Mayakoba Golf Classic.
Argentina's Eduardo Romero is back to defend his Toshiba Classic title. Last year, Romero shot a final-round, 3-under-par 68, rolling in four birdies on the first six holes on the back nine to become the fourth international (non-U.S.) player to win the Toshiba Classic. Romero's 11-under-par 202 gave him his fourth victory in his last 10 Champions Tour starts, fifth Champions Tour win overall and his 100th professional triumph worldwide.
The Toshiba Classic also received prior commitments from World Golf Hall of Famers Isao Aoki, Hale Irwin (the Toshiba Classic's only two-time winner, in 1998 and 2002), Tom Kite, Larry Nelson, Nick Price, Lanny Wadkins and Tom Watson, as well as players with Orange County ties like Corona del Mar resident John Cook (runner-up in the 2009 Charles Schwab Cup standings) and former Mission Viejo resident Mark O'Meara, a 2009 Toshiba Classic runner-up.
Watson has started his 2010 campaign in electric form, having won the Wendy's Champions Skins Game before besting Couples in a final-round duel at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai to gain his 13th Champions Tour title and his first since turning 60 in September. Watson became the 15th player to win on the Champions Tour at age 60 or older. In February, he tied for eighth at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic, a tournament that featured five of the top nine golfers in the world.
The most decorated golfer in the early field, Watson owns 39 PGA TOUR titles - highlighted by wins at the 1977 and 1981 Masters, 1982 U.S. Open and the 1975, 1977, 1980, 1982 and 1983 British Open - and 13 Champions Tour titles, including majors at the 2001 Senior PGA Championship, the 2003, 2005 and 2007 Senior British Open and the 2003 JELD-WEN Tradition.
The Toshiba Classic field also includes a quartet of accomplished Champions Tour rookies - La Quinta resident Fred Couples, Oxnard native Corey Pavin, and Paul Azinger. The four players have accounted for 47 PGA TOUR titles and four majors.
Azinger, the 1993 PGA Championship winner, captained the 2008 United States Ryder Cup team to its first triumph over Europe since 1999. Pavin, the 1995 U.S. Open champion, will assume Azinger's duties at this year's Ryder Cup in Wales this fall. In October, 1992 Masters champ Couples captained the U.S. President's Cup team to victory over the Internationals in San Francisco.
Daily tickets for the Toshiba Classic are $20 if purchased in advance and are $25 at the gate. Season clubhouse badges providing admission to the grounds and clubhouse for practice rounds and the tournament are $100. All tickets, including corporate ticket packages, can be obtained by calling 949-660-1001 or visiting www.ToshibaClassic.com.
The Toshiba Classic's lead charity and operator is Hoag Hospital Foundation. During the last 12 years, the Toshiba Classic has generated more than $12.1 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 and expand the tournament's fan base through its official fan pages on Facebook (www.facebook.com, search "Toshiba Classic"), and Twitter (www.twitter.com/ToshibaClassic). Register to become a fan or follower of the Toshiba Classic at each fan page, meet and chat with new friends and golf fans, and stay up to date on all tournament and player information. Tournament information, statistics, activities and updates are also available at the tournament's official web site, www.ToshibaClassic.com.
The Toshiba Classic
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