'Boss of the Moss' out for more success at old-school Newport Beach CC

Petersen/Getty Images
Two-time Charles Schwab Cup champion Loren Roberts won a year ago at Toshiba.
March 14, 2013

By Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

Loren Roberts is a goal setter. For the two-time Charles Schwab Cup winner, identifying objectives is an important first ingredient for success.

“I’ve always tried to be a goal setter and they’re pretty much the same every year,” said Roberts, who will defend his title at the Toshiba Classic this week.

Roberts starts with what he describes as “little goals."

“They help me attain the bigger goals,” he said. “To me, the important thing is setting the smaller goals that help you achieve. Small goals, like, ‘I’m going to work on my wedge game or putting or getting the stroke average down, hit more greens, work on my golf swing a little bit.’ Whatever those small goals happen to be.”

Roberts is a California native who lives in Tennessee, and when he left for Newport Beach Country Club last week, the chill still dominated on the weather scene in Volunteer country.

“It always feels I’m a little behind some of the guys who live in Florida or Arizona,” Roberts said. “I spent three weeks in Florida for the ACE and Allianz, and stayed around to work with my coach.”
Roberts has been working with Jim Suttie for most of the past two decades.

“I’m 57, I’m not going to change my golf swing said. We have to stick with the things I know I can do. Basically, we focus on my game, what I can do physically with my swing. We have identified those areas over the year and we just kind of work on that.”

But it always comes down to this fact for Roberts: He’s the Boss of the Moss. He’s uniquely talented with a putter in his hands and always has been. Not surprisingly, it is what won him the Toshiba Classic last year – the 13th victory in his Champions Tour career. His eight victories on the PGA TOUR, between 1994 and 2002, earned him the reputation as the Boss.

“My putting, that’s what I really did well last year when I won Toshiba,” Roberts said. “The weather was really bad on the weekend, you had to make some putts. I made some good putts for pars. I try to get my game focused on what I do best. I’m not going to beat anybody with long ball. I try to build around my putting, the rest of my short game and go from there.

“I think the weather situation may have helped me on the weekend. I played with Fred (Couples) and Calc (Mark Calcavecchia) and you know how far they hit it. The weather kind of negated the long ball.”

Newport Beach Country Club is an old-fashioned course that suits Roberts – and just about everybody else on Tour because it levels the playing field. It’s one of the shortest courses on the Champions Tour that tests multiple skills. Even the shorter hitters are capable of reaching the par 5s, or getting close enough, and there aren’t many really long par 4s.

Becoming 'The Boss'

Fellow touring professional David Ogrin christened Roberts “The Boss of the Moss” in 1985 but his putting ability was noted long before that. It was another golfer from Tennessee, Cary Middlecoff, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, who would tell anybody who cared to listen about a young golfer from his home state.

“We've got a kid back home who is just a beautiful putter,” Middlecoff said. “He'll just break your heart on the greens, he's so pure. If he ever gets to believing in himself, he could really be something to watch."

But the greens are what can make or break a round at Newport Beach CC.

“They’re very tricky, you can’t get the ball in the wrong spot,” Roberts said. “You have some slope and some speed. The golf course doesn’t exclude anybody in the field. That’s what I like about it.”

The victory at the Toshiba Classic was his first in two seasons. He had to come from behind to do it, and closed the deal with a five-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to win by two strokes over Bernhard Langer, Calcavecchia and Tom Kite. The 2011 season was difficult for Roberts. He missed a month with shoulder and upper-back issues. The winless season ended Roberts’ streak of six straight years with at least one Champions Tour title.

Roberts won the Charles Schwab Cup in 2007 and 2009, winning three times each year. Four of his 13 victories on the Champions Tour are majors. His first major victory, in 2005, came at the Tradition. In 2006 he won the Senior British Open and the following year added the SENIOR PLAYERS Championship. In 2009, he added a second Senior Open title at Sunningdale Golf Club. That season ended with Roberts winning the Charles Schwab Cup title by a comfortable margin, winning twice and finishing in the top 10 eight times in the final 10 starts.

Included in that stretch was a victory at the Boeing Classic and how he achieved it was typical Roberts. He made birdies on the final two holes Sunday and one-putted 13 of the final 14 holes during Saturday’s third round. In 54 holes, he had just 73 putts. File that under: Loren Roberts doing what Loren Roberts does.