March 03, 2009
Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
Editor's note: Vartan Kupelian is the Champions Tour Insider and a PGATOUR.COM Contributor. Each week, Kupelian will size up the field and provide his top 5 players going into the tournament, based on factors such as the player's strengths, the course setup, recent performances, etc. MORE POWER RANKINGS: PGA TOUR | Nationwide Tour
The Champions Tour returns this week for the Toshiba Classic at Newport Beach Country Club. Bernhard Langer is the defending champion.
The field at the Toshiba Classic includes Tom Watson, Loren Roberts and Fred Funk. They'll be joined by Hale Irwin, the only two-time Toshiba Classic champion (1998, 2002), Mark O'Meara, John Cook and first-timers in the event Hal Sutton, Nick Price and Ian Woosnam.
|Power Rankings: Toshiba Classic|
| || ||Bernhard |
|He's made three starts in 2009 and earned three top-3 finishes, including his season-opening win. The Toshiba Classic was the first of Langer's three victories in 2008. He's No. 1 on the current money list, the Charles Schwab Cup standings and scoring average.|
| || ||Loren |
|He's coming off a victory at The ACE Group Classic where he made a clutch final-hole birdie to win for the ninth time on the Champions Tour. He birdied three of the last four holes to edge Gene Jones. He also tied for eighth in Hawaii, a nice start to the season.|
| || ||Andy |
|After opening the year-long campaign with six straight rounds in the 60s and a pair of top seven finishes, he slipped a bit in Naples but he still shines statistically in several key areas.|
| || ||Mike |
|He's 2-for-2 in top-10s, including his victory at the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, where he shot 67-68-66 to become the earliest first-time winner since Dave Barr at the 2003 Royal Caribbean Classic. He backed up the victory with a T7 in Naples.|
| || ||Gil |
|A solid start has him at fifth on the Charles Schwab Cup points list and also the money list with a T6 in Hawaii and T4 at Allianz. He hits it straight enough to be a factor this week.|
Other past champions in the field include Brad Bryant (2006), Mark Johnson (2005), Tom Purtzer (2004), Allen Doyle (2000), Gary McCord (1999), Bob Murphy (1997) and Jim Colbert (1996).