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Toshiba Classic Notebook:

Fans can relate to Champions pros

GOLF: Simpson and Langer errors connect them to spectators. Player shoots age for 11th time on Saturday.

March 09, 2008|By Soraya Nadia McDonald

NEWPORT BEACH — Tim Simpson led by one stroke after the first round, but that didn’t give him any sort of advantage in Saturday’s second round of the Toshiba Classic at Newport Beach Country Club.

Both Simpson and Bernhard Langer hit tee shots into the right-side trees on the ninth, prompting murmurs of “I can relate to that,” from the gallery as both men hit out of the rough.

Simpson bogeyed, while Langer made par. Mark Johnson, the third in the group, shot from the edge of the rough on the left and came away even on the par-four hole.

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SHOT AT THE TOP

In the Toshiba Classic’s 13-year history, seven players have won the tournament after leading or tying for the lead after 36 holes. Six of those players did it in the last eight years.

Since 2000, only Brad Bryant and Jose Maria Canizares provided any aberrations. Bryant won after climbing from three strokes back. Canizares overcame a five-stroke deficit to Terry Mauney, then defeated Gil Morgan in a nine-hole playoff.

ROOM TO GROW

Somehow, even with four birdies and an eagle, Greg Hopkins finished five-over par Saturday with a score of 76. The chief executive officer of Cleveland Golf also had seven bogeys and two double-bogeys in his second Toshiba Classic.

SWEET 72

Gary Player matched his age for the 11th time on the Champions Tour, shooting one-over-par 72 after bogeying his final three holes Saturday. The Black Knight has shot better than his age eight times.

OUT OF THE BLUE

Morris Hatalsky, who will be playing in the leaders group after shooting 64 to tie for second place Saturday, was one stroke shy of his all-time low on the Champions Tour. Hatalsky, who shot three-under-par 69 Friday, hadn’t shot 64 since February 2006, in the final round of the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am.

Hatalsky was tied for 26th after his first round, but moved up after eight birdies and one bogey during his second round.

A FIRST FOR SILVER

A first-place finish today would give Langer 255 points in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race. Langer, who is currently in ninth place with 159 points, would have 415 to move up to second place behind Scott Hoch (488). Hoch’s won two straight tournaments this year — the Allianz Championship and the ACE Group Classic — but shot one-over 72 in the Toshiba Saturday to tie for 33rd place.

However, Langer said Saturday he only planned to play 18-20 Champions Tour events, not the full 29 scheduled.

Fred Funk (300), Brad Bryant (299), Jerry Pate (285), and Loren Roberts (205) currently trail Hoch in the points race.


SORAYA NADIA McDONALD may be reached at (714) 966-4613 or at soraya.mcdonald@latimes.com.

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