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Classic moments

2008 will attempt to join Toshiba’s grand history, which has included wild finishes.

February 26, 2008

The drama is about to unfold for the 14th time in the Toshiba Classic, the only pro tournament in Orange County.

From year to year, there are so many storylines entering the tournament. Some stories come alive all on their own throughout each round, each swing of the club, each putt on the green.

The site, Newport Beach Country Club, is not just about a quaint golf course possessing a picturesque backdrop of the ocean.

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Competition is found here and a champion rises. Meanwhile, in each year, there’s proof that more memories will be created.

Last year, Jay Haas produced some magic and etched his name as the greatest champ of the Toshiba Classic.

Overall, the tournament has provided its share of drama in all forms, with nearly a quarter of the finishes being decided in sudden-death playoffs, two of which were extended to nine holes.

Haas enters with great credentials, but it’s difficult to label him as the favorite. There has never been a pro who has won two straight years at Toshiba.

Every year it appears to be a wide-open race. Yet some close the gap sooner than others.

Looking back, there have been improbable victories, as well as those who have solidified status.

It all began in …

1995

The first Toshiba Classic is played at Mesa Verde Country Club.

The Champions Tour is known as the PGA Senior Tour.

Out of the 78 golfers competing, a surprise champion is produced in George Archer. One day before the Toshiba Classic starts, Archer announces that he will retire at season’s end from professional golf because of a degenerative hip.

Archer, the 1969 Masters Champion, goes on to win the tournament with a six-under 199, a stroke ahead of Dave Stockton and Tom Fargo, for his first victory in two years.

Archer has surgery but remains in professional golf, winning another tournament afterward. He is in the Toshiba Classic up until 2003. He dies on Sept. 25, 2005, at 65 years old.

1996

The Toshiba Classic moves to Newport Beach Country Club.

The first year there does not provide any tight finish. Jim Colbert has a lot to do with that.

He takes a five-shot lead into the final round then picks up four birdies on the front nine to cruise to a two-stroke victory, his first in California. He becomes Toshiba’s only wire-to-wire winner.

Colbert uses the win as momentum as he goes on to capture his second Champions Tour Player of the Year award in 1996.

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