Fred Couples birdied three of the last four holes to cap a 5-under-par 66 and win the Toshiba Classic by one stroke over Steve Pate, Bernhard Langer of Germany and Colin Montgomerie of Scotland at Newport Beach Country Club.
Couples, who also captured the Toshiba in 2010, claimed his 10th victory on the Champions Tour and first since he won the Charles Schwab Cup Championship last October at Harding Park in San Francisco. He sank four-foot birdie putts on the last two holes.
“I worked pretty hard, but I drove it all over the lot,” said Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, who hit his approach shot over the 18th green but followed with a brilliant flop shot to set up his winning putt. “I made some putts and when you do, you have a chance.
“I hit a 6-iron (on No. 18) and it was way too much club. To get up-and-down from there for me was kind of miraculous.”
Montgomerie, playing well ahead of the leaders, set a target in the clubhouse by shooting a 62, carding birdies on four of the first five holes and five of the last seven. Monty has finished in the top 10 in the first three events of his second season on the senior circuit.
Pate, from Ventura and UCLA, closed with 66 that included four birdies and an eagle on the back nine but fell short of his first victory on the Champions Tour after winning six times on the PGA Tour.
Langer, who was seeking his 20th victory on the Champions Tour, led after the first two rounds in his bid to win the Toshiba for the second time (2008), but could manage only a 70 in the final round. He missed a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole that would have forced a playoff.
Mark O’Meara of Mission Viejo and Long Beach State posted a 64 to tie for fifth, two shots back, with Michael Allen of San Mateo and Nevada-Reno, who shot 67, Jeff Hart, who came in with a 68, Scott Dunlap, who had a 68, and Kenny Perry, who totaled 69.