The Champions Tour is idle for a week before heading to the Newport Beach CC in Newport Beach, Calif., for the Toshiba Classic on March 7-13. The purse is $1.7 million with $255,000 and 255 Charles Schwab Cup points going to the winner. Last year, Fred Couplessecured his second consecutive Champions Tour win in just his third start with a four-stroke victory over Ronnie Black.
• Five of the six Champions Tour professionals at the PGA TOUR’s Mayakoba Classic, made the cut. Four of those six finished in the top 30. John Cook shot a pair of 66s on the weekend to finish third, three strokes behind winner Johnson Wagner. Tom Lehman (T13), Tom Pernice Jr. (T19), Steve Lowery (T29) and Michael Allen (T56) made the cut, while Fred Funk, the 2007 Mayakoba Classic champion, missed the cut.
• Cook’s third-place finish at the Mayakoba Classic was his first top 10 on TOUR since the 2006 Reno-Tahoe Open (T5). Cook played in the first Mayakoba Golf Classic in 2007 and finished T26.
• Cook made his 702nd start on TOUR at the Mayakoba Classic and recorded his 476th career made cut.
• Champions Tour professional David Frost was among the contestants at the United States Professional Hickory Golf Championship at Temple Terrace G&CC in Tampa last week. Frost shot 81 to finish second, two strokes behind Leroux Ferreira. All contestants used clubs from 1910 or earlier. Lee Chill, who ironically played his first and only Champions Tour event in Hickory (2010 Ensure Classic at Rock Barn), scored 86.
• According to the Orlando Sentinel, Champions Tour professionals Mark O’Meara and John Cook both declined invitations to qualify for Isleworth’s final roster spot in The Tavistock Cup, which will now have four teams of six contesting the Cup. Isleworth has five members in the top 100 of the world rankings. Players in Champions Tour events do not earn world ranking points.
• The Honda Classic will get a visit from World Golf Hall of Fame member Nick Price, making a rare crossover from the Champions Tour. Other Champions Tour professionals set to compete include Mark Calcavecchia, Fred Funk, Kenny Perry and Lee Rinker.
• Ian Baker-Finch is scheduled to make his Champions Tour debut at next week’s Toshiba Classic. The 1991 British Open champion turned 50 last October.
• World Golf Hall of Fame member Tom Kite will be the guest at the Toshiba Classic’s Breakfast of Champions on March 8. The Toshiba Classic is March 11-13 at Newport Beach CC.
ON THIS DATE
2/28/99 — With his win at the ACE Group Classic, Allen Doyle becomes the first player to win an event on both the Champions Tour and the Nationwide Tour.
3/1/96 — The Stockton family makes history when Dave (Champions Tour), Dave Jr. (PGA TOUR/Doral Ryder Open) and Ron (Nike Inland Empire Open) all compete the same day in PGA TOUR sanctioned events.
QUOTES TO NOTE
“I think he’s pretty good at everything. He hits it long. He hits it straight. He’s getting better and better with his short game. And he has a very good head on his shoulders and that’s what counts.” — Bernhard Langer on Martin Kaymer reaching No. 1 in the OWGR.
“I had nothing to lose this week.”– John Cook sums up his third-place finish at the Mayakoba Classic. It was his first PGA TOUR start since 2007.
“Nobody’s ever won a tournament without getting lucky somewhere along the way.” — Mark Calcavecchia.
“The standard of play has probably been the most amazing thing I’ve seen in my career. How they come off the TOUR in the twilight of their golf and suddenly they get their mulligan. They recharge. They regenerate. They come out and start playing better than they played on TOUR. That’s the strange thing.” — Gary Player shares his thoughts on the standard of play on the Champions Tour.