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Couples Secures 10th Champions Tour Victory
Fred Couples birdied the final two holes to come from behind and win the Toshiba Classic at Newport Beach Country Club on Sunday. The victory was Couples' 10th on the Champions Tour and the second in his last three starts.
After two birdies on the front nine, the 54-year-old Seattle native, who now makes his home in Southern California, carded four birdies - including three on the final four holes - and a bogey to close with a 5-under 66.
Couples finished at 15-under 198, a stroke ahead of Steve Pate, 36-hole leader Bernhard Langer and Scotland's Colin Montgomerie, who shot rounds of 66, 70 and 62, respectively. Montgomerie's 9-under tally was the low mark of the tournament.
Couples sank a four-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th after a brilliant tee shot, then after going long and left of the green with his approach on the par-5 18th, hit a remarkably soft lob shot to set up another four-foot birdie putt, breaking the logjam of players at 14-under.
"I hit a 6-iron and it was way too much club," Couples said of his approach on 18. "To get up-and-down from there for me was kind of miraculous."
Overall, Couples, who won the season-ending Charles Schwab Championship last November by six strokes, was pleased with his performance. "It was a great day," said the three-time U.S. Presidents Cup captain.
"I was a little salty out there at times. I assumed someone would get to 16-under. I'm just happy I made some birdies."
Langer began the final round with a two-stroke lead but came back to the field with two bogeys and seven pars on the front nine. The German got better on the back, with three birdies through the 15th, but parred out from there and couldn't force extra holes with Couples.
"I felt lucky," Couples said. "I know [Langer is] disappointed, because when he sits there and looks at it he probably feels like he could shoot 69 with his eyes closed because he plays this course so well."
Mark O'Meara (64), Michael Allen (67), Kenny Perry (69), Jeff Hart (68) and Scott Dunlap (68) shared fifth at 13 under. Each of those players had a chance to move to the top of the leaderboard on the back nine at Newport Beach but never quite got there.
Defending champion David Frost got progressively better over 54 holes with rounds of 72, 67 and 66 to move into a tie for 27th at 8-under 205.
At one point it looked like Kirk Triplett was going to be heading to the winner's circle. The ACE Group winner had five birdies through 14 holes before his putter went cold. Triplett missed four putts inside four feet on the last few holes, including a three-putt from three feet on the 17th for a double-bogey, en route to a 68 and a tie for 10th at 12-under with Loren Roberts (66).
For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/champions/leaderboard.html.