To many, the fantastic weather slated for Newport Beach this weekend isn't much of a surprise. The same could be said of the Toshiba Classic's first-round leader.
That would be Bernhard Langer. The two-time Masters champion, who won the Toshiba Classic in 2008, is the hottest golfer on the Champions Tour. He shot eight-under-par 63 Friday at Newport Beach Country Club and takes a two-shot lead into Saturday's second round.
It was Langer's 12th straight sub-par round. He has shot below par in 19 of his last 20 rounds. And that one round he didn't go under, he was at par.
"What happened there?" Langer said facetiously of the even round. "That's very disappointing."
Langer, last year's Champions Tour money-list leader and the top player in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race, began this year with a win in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii. He then finished tied for seventh and second in his next two events. A three-week break hardly slowed him down in his first round at Newport Beach.
His bogey-free round featured four birdies on the front (No. 1, 2, 7, 9) and four on the back (No. 10, 15, 16, 18).
"The weather? I don't know what it's going to be like [Saturday and Sunday], but so far it's been tremendous," the 56-year-old said. "Keep it up."
Langer said he was happy with just about every club in his bag. He was also pleased with his stamina. He said he struggled with fatigue earlier in the week during pro-am play because of jet lag resulting in what he said was from a 10-hour flight from his home in Florida.
His longest birdie putt came on the 390-yard, par-4, No. 2 hole, where he drained it from 16 feet out.
"I hit pretty much every green," Langer said. "I putted pretty solid too. The poa annua greens are not easy to putt."
Fred Couples is one of three tied at six-under, with Chien Soon Lu and Jeff Hart.
Couples, who won the Toshiba Classic in 2010, collected seven birdies, four on the front. But his bogey on No. 16 (par 4, 437 yards) proved costly.
Lu went bogey free with six birdies, and Hart also bogeyed 16, but finished with seven birdies.
Hart's 65 was his best start in 45 career events on the Champions Tour.
Duffy Waldorf, Scott Simpson, Michael Allen, Kirk Triplett and Kenny Perry are tied for fifth at five-under.
Langer showed he was hot from the start with birdies on his first two holes. By the time he reached the par-5, 18th, the Golf Channel started replaying highlights from his 2008 win at Newport Beach.
While on the Champions Tour, for golfers 50 years and older, Langer has won six titles in the 17 times he's had the first-round lead.
"It always helps when you play a course well or win there," Langer said. "It certainly doesn't do any harm. I won here in 2008. I've had other good finishes here. I think I know how to play the golf course, and I think it's just a matter of executing."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun