Rain and wind pounded Newport Beach Country Club all weekend, but that didn’t stop the Champions Tour players from shooting low scores and thrilling the fans until the final putt was made – a birdie putt on 18 by Loren Roberts to seal his win at 8 eight under par for the tournament. Friday’s rounds were low, the playing more aggressive because players knew rain was on the way. In fact, three players - Bernhard Langer, Bobby Clampett and Olin Browne - shot 65, six under par. Loren Roberts opened with a 66, five under par.
Saturday’s tee times were moved up in an attempt to avoid the rain, but Mother Nature had other ideas. The rain was either a full downpour or a light drizzle until a brief rain delay brought proceedings to a halt in the early afternoon. Once the players got back out, the course became much longer. The longer hitters’ advantage disappeared.
“If we would have had a hot, sunny day, Fred and Calc would have busted all of the par 5s up,” Roberts said. “I think the weather conditions kind of worked in my favor a little bit today.”
The headline of the final day, besides Roberts’ victory, was the wind. Even with clouds in the sky and shots flying all over the course, Roberts managed to punctuate his victory with a 10-foot birdie putt. “I was really happy to birdie 18,” Roberts said. “It was nice to knock it in and win by two. That feels a whole lot better birdieing the last hole and winning by two instead of just dribbling it up there.”
Only 18 players finished with rounds below par on Sunday, with Brad Bryant turning in the round of the day, a 5-under-par 66.
Roberts edged out Langer, Tom Kite and Mark Calcavecchia who all finished the tournament six under par, two strokes back.