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From The Sports Desk:

Keep an eye on O’Meara

March 03, 2008|By STEVE VIRGEN

It’s Toshiba Classic Week, when the Newport Beach Country Club becomes my second home and golf truly becomes the No. 1 sport in town.

The week is already set with the schedule of events, but look here and you’ll find the unexpected, the predictions for the 2008 Toshiba Classic.

Last year, Jay Haas entered as the favorite, the Charles Schwab Cup winner, the money-list leader and the Champions Tour Player of the Year of 2006. A smart betting man would wager on him.

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This year, Haas will be a favorite of sorts, but I don’t think he can do it: become the first to win back-to-back Toshiba Classic titles.

Instead, I’m going with an Orange County native, a dark horse in the tournament. Mark O’Meara is still looking for his first win on the Champions Tour, since joining last year. On Sunday, my prediction is that he’ll get it.

Of course, he was my pick last year, too, however he ended up tied for fifth. But I just can’t shake the feeling that he’ll be posing for pictures with that crystal Toshiba Classic trophy on Sunday afternoon.

Maybe it’s because O’Meara is not a stranger to the course at Newport Beach Country Club. O’Meara went to Mission Viejo High and used to play high school matches at Newport Beach Country Club.

“It’s pretty cool,” O’Meara said of his return to NBCC.

O’Meara, the Costa Mesa City champion in 1979, hopes to win his first Champions Tour title close to home and close to his son, Shaun, a freshman at UC Irvine. Shaun O’Meara said he plans to watch his dad play Friday through Sunday.

But that’s not the end of the predictions. I have Scott Hoch finishing second. He already has two victories on the Champions Tour this year and is intriguing in this field.

I also predict Brad Bryant, the 2006 Toshiba Classic Champion, to take third, followed by Haas and 2007 Charles Schwab Cup winner Loren Roberts to take fifth.

My final prediction is that Toshiba Classic fans won’t be disappointed by the coverage found in the Daily Pilot and on our Web site during this week.


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