NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- The experience was nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time. And that wasn't just taking into account the 162-foot drop from the roof of the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa to the second green of the Newport Beach Country Club below, but the thrill of launching a golf ball off a 16-story building with the chatter of Gary McCord or Fuzzy Zoeller ringing through your ears.
Yet Chris Lungo and Christine Caley of Dana Hills High managed to block out the spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean and McCord and Zoeller to win the fifth-annual Toshiba "Shot from the Top" on Tuesday morning.
Dana Hills was one of eight Orange County high schools competing in the event, which featured eight four-person teams hitting golf balls off the roof of the 16-story Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa. Teams consisted of two high school golfers, a Champions Tour pro and a Toshiba Classic media representative.
With representatives from Toshiba, including the President and CEO of Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., Mark Simons, and media outlets from all over Southern California, the Toshiba "Shot from the Top" showed why it is annually one of the most popular and emulated events on the Champions Tour.
At the same time, it is one of the most charitable events -- an appropriate feat, given the Toshiba Classic's status as the philanthropic standard on the Champions Tour ($11.1 million in charitable donations over the last 11 years). For the third consecutive year, Toshiba Digital Products Division, a division of Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., donated more than 150 laptop computers to area high schools.
Dana Hills High will bring 25 of those laptop computers back, courtesy of Lungo (8 feet, 2 inches), along with Champions Tour pro Zoeller (9 feet, 10 inches) and media representative Jill Painter of the Los Angeles Daily News (60 feet). At a combined distance of 99 feet, 9 inches, Dana Hills was the only school to record a combined distance less than 100 feet.
"It was really exciting, but it made me really nervous because of the height and everyone watching me," Caley said, before describing what it was like to hear McCord's voice in her ear. "It made me really nervous. It was a little distracting, but it made me nervous.
"This is something I'll remember forever and something I bring with me on all my golfing experiences."
Lungo, who said the height factor "doesn't look nearly as bad as I thought it would be," prepared for the event by going up to a cliff alongside a Dana Point restaurant and hitting range balls into the Pacific.
"You can't explain this (the experience). You have to do it yourself," Lungo said. "When you're standing on the mat in front of people and cameras are filming and all that stuff is going on, it's a great feeling, but it's nerve-wracking."
Each of the four professionals -- Zoeller (the 2005 "Shot from the Top" champion), McCord (the 2006 winner), Andy Bean and 2005 Toshiba Classic champion Mark Johnson -- competed with two teams. McCord snapped Bean's two-year streak of hitting the closest shot among the pros when the event emcee and CBS analyst hit one of his four shots to 8 feet, 9 inches.
That helped Foothill High of Santa Ana, which finished eighth last year, move up six spots to second this year and earn the school 20 laptop computers.
"It is the most unique event we do (on the Champions Tour) all year," McCord said. "You're standing up there and it's a long way down. At first, when you look down, it's a little bit intimidating. But the kids have a lot of fun with it."
For the second consecutive year, the closest shot in the competition came from a high school golfer. Ashley Peters of Estancia High in Costa Mesa hit her first shot to 6 feet, 7 inches. That helped Estancia to a third-place finish (15 laptop computers).
Beckman (fourth/12 laptop computers), Woodbridge (fifth/10), San Clemente (sixth/nine), University (seventh/eight) and El Toro (eighth/seven) were the other participating high schools.
Tod Leonard of the San Diego Union-Tribune hit the closest shot among the Toshiba Classic media. As part of Woodbridge High's team, Leonard parked his shot to 7 feet, 11 inches.
The $1.7 million Toshiba Classic will be televised on GOLF CHANNEL (tape delay) on Friday, March 6 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. PT and Saturday and Sunday, March 7-8 from 3:30-6 p.m. PT.
Daily tickets 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.