It's not how you start but how you finish. That's among the favorite lines for a coach to use.
But Nick Price's start proved to be very important last year when he won the 17th Toshiba Classic. He opened the three-day tournament with an 11-under-par 60, which was a course, tournament and Champions Tour record. He ended up needing that score.
He prevailed after two rounds of 68 and held off to win by one stroke over Mark Wiebe. Price's hot start was too much for the field at the Toshiba Classic. He became the fourth wire-to-wire champion in Toshiba Classic history. He was one of two to lead wire to wire on the Champions Tour in 2011. It was his lone win on the tour last year, when he had 10 top-10 finishes.
Price, 55, has four wins on the Champions Tour. The Toshiba Classic victory capped a run of three titles within 11 months.
"I don't know how many more years I've got left," said Price, a three-time PGA Tour major champion and a Hall of Famer. "I want to win four or five times out here. I want to win a major or two ... I still have a competitive instinct and drive in me that I want to win. That's what gets me to the practice tee every day when I got to practice. When I get on the airplane and have to leave my family, the only thing is the light at the end of the tunnel is that I got a chance to win. I'm not coming here just to make a check. That ain't going to work."
Price's record round and rise to the title was one of several fascinating stories during the tournament.
Joe Ozaki grabbed attention by tying for third, despite reports of a devastating tsunami in his homeland of Japan.
Fan favorite Fred Couples tried but could not become Toshiba's first repeat champion. He finished tied for fifth.
Robert Thompson worked his way into the tournament by qualifying four days before it began and he tied with Couples.
Every year there's a new story to write.
It all began in ...
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.
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.
Bob Eastwood ties the course record set at the 1976 Crosby Southern Pro-Am with a seven-under par 64 on the final day to finish second.
Colbert didn't create much suspense in '96, but Jay Sigel and Bob Murphy provide plenty this year. Sigel and Murphy go back and forth, battling in a then-Champions Tour record-long playoff of nine holes.
Sigel definitely has to climb to set up the playoff. He is six strokes behind Murphy with eight holes remaining in the final round, but Murphy has three bogeys on the back nine and Sigel birdies his last three holes to force a playoff.
ESPN gives air time to the next two hours of play of the playoff duel between Sigel and Murphy.
The pair plays the 18th hole four times and No. 16 three times.
Murphy is able to redeem himself. He puts to rest those three bogeys on the back nine that set up the playoff. He wins with an 80-foot birdie putt on the two-tiered green of the 17th hole.
Hale Irwin captures the first of his two Toshiba victories. He remains as the only player to win it twice. And, he did it with flair. He completes a then-course record 62 in the final round. Irwin, who begins Sunday's final round five strokes off the pace, passes 11 players to secure victory. The Famous Bunker Rake on the treacherous par-3 17th hole, however, aids his effort. The rake stops his ball from rolling into the pond fronting the green, allowing him to get up-and-down for par. The rake is housed in Newport Beach Country Club's clubhouse. The victory vaults Irwin to Player of the Year honors with seven victories.
Gary McCord, making his debut on the tour, outlasts John Jacobs on the fifth playoff hole with a birdie to claim the championship. It is his first victory in 383 starts.
Afterward McCord and Jacobs delight the fans with their humorous antics. McCord and Jacobs eliminate half of the four-player playoff field that include Al Geiberger and Allen Doyle with eagles on the first playoff hole. The four players finish at 54 holes of regulation at nine-under 204. McCord sinks an 18-foot putt after Jacobs chips in from 90 feet. After McCord makes his putt, he motions with a curled index finger for Jacobs to come and fetch his ball from the cup at 18 as fans cheer and laugh. Jacobs retrieves his ball, then chucks it into the crowd of 10-deep people.
Heavy rains and gusts of up to 20 miles per hour force officials to cancel the final round of the tournament, limiting the event to 36 holes. Allen Doyle is declared the champion after shooting a four-under 67 Saturday and finishes at six-under 136 for an eventual one-stroke victory over Howard Twitty and Jim Thorpe. No players tee off Sunday, the first and still only time in tournament history a round is canceled. Seventy-year-old Arnold Palmer plays his first competitive rounds in Orange County at the event. About 1,200 fans surround first tee for Palmer's pro-am round.
On the ninth playoff hole, the second time in tournament history an extra session spans that number, Jose Maria Canizares sinks a 24-foot, left-to-right birdie putt on the par-3 17th to defeat Gil Morgan for his first title on the tour and first victory in nine years. Both nine-hole playoffs are tour records. Canizares, who starts the final round five shots off the pace, and Morgan, both finish 54 holes at 11-under 202.
Hale Irwin wins the second of his Toshiba titles, breaking his own 54-hole tournament scoring record by four shots since the tournament moved to Newport Beach Country Club in 1996 with a 17-under (67-64-65 -- 196) performance. Irwin also sets a tournament record for margin of victory with his five-shot win over 2000 Toshiba champion Allen Doyle (66-68-67 -- 201).
Jim Colbert held the prior mark with a two-stroke victory in 1996. Before teeing off in the first round, he switches to forged blade irons, changes from graphite to steel shafts and adds fairway woods and a new sand wedge.
Australian Rodger Davis shoots a blistering 16-under 197 (65-64-68) to notch his first win on United States' soil and on the Champions Tour with a four-stroke victory. Davis, clad in knickers, just misses tying Hale Irwin's tournament record (17-under) set a year earlier. Two weeks before Toshiba, two men hold up Davis, another golfer and two caddies at gunpoint in a Mexico City restaurant.
Tom Purtzer fires a tournament and course record 11-under 60 in the first round, which includes nine birdies and an eagle, and adds 71 and 67 in the second and third rounds, respectively, to finish 15-under 198 en route to his second Champions Tour victory. Purtzer, who becomes only the fifth Champions Tour player to shoot 60, defeats college friend Morris Hatalsky by a stroke. History is also made as Jack Nicklaus, winner of a record 18 major championships, makes his Toshiba debut. Galleries swell to an estimated 80,000 as the Golden Bear shoots three-under 210 to finish tied for 36th.
Mark Johnson's background and finish supply the drama at the 11th installment of the Toshiba Classic. Johnson had been a beer truck driver for 18 years, earning himself the nickname, "Beer Man." He was also a California state amateur champion.
Johnson takes a three-stroke lead over Keith Fergus after a second-round 63. On Sunday, Johnson holes out on the 18th hole from 91 yards for eagle to clinch the tournament.
The Toshiba Classic is up for grabs this year as 28 golfers are within five strokes of one another in the final round. The finish ends up being just as furious, with the lead changing hands throughout the day.
When the sand settles Brad Bryant, a.k.a. Dr. Dirt, birdies five of his final eight holes for a five-under 66, tying Bobby Wadkins for the low score of the day. Bryant edges out Wadkins, John Harris and Mark Johnson by one stroke and three other golfers by two strokes for the title, his first on the Tour.
Jay Haas breaks Hale Irwin's five-year-old tournament record, finishing 19-under-par 194 (65-64-65), two better than Irwin's mark. It is Haas' seventh victory on the Champions Tour in only his 40th career start. Haas' 19-under-par mastery of Newport Beach Country Club not only eclipses Irwin's tournament record by two shots, but comes with only one bogey in 54 holes.
The native of Missouri and South Carolina resident holds 10 Champions Tour titles.
Haas accentuates his record-winning performance with a dramatic birdie putt on the 10th hole. The putt is one of four straight that essentially seal his victory.
On No. 10, Haas' 16-foot putt rolls to the cup, hangs on the lip for about eight seconds and drops. During that time the ball stays on the lip, Haas and Peter Jacobsen speak to each other, asking one another if the ball will drop.
Bernhard Langer drops to his knees after a birdie putt four inches from hole No. 18 on the seventh playoff hole to edge defending champ Haas for a memorable Toshiba.
Haas nearly sends the playoff to an eighth hole, but his three-foot putt stops just inches from the cup.
It is Langer's first tournament victory of the year and sends him on his way to earning Champions Tour Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards. He also collects the Arnold Palmer award, for gaining the most prize money on the tour, $2,035,073.
Haas suffers his first playoff loss after he had won twice on the Champions Tour and three on the PGA in such situations.
A final round 68, which includes four birdies in the first six holes on the back nine, propels Romero to a one-stroke victory over Mark O'Meara and Joey Sindelar. His back-nine charge at Newport Beach Country Club gives Romero his 100th career worldwide professional victory.
In one of the most highly anticipated debuts in Toshiba Classic history, Fred Couples certainly doesn't disappoint as he rolls to a four-stroke victory. His second-round 64 includes a tournament-record 5-under-par 30 on the front nine. After three rounds in blustery conditions, his total of 195, is only one-stroke short of the tournament record set in 2007 by Jay Haas.
— Compiled from past reportsCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun