Sports

Fred Couples rallies in final round to win Toshiba Classic by a shot

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Going into the final round of the 20th Toshiba Classic, Fred Couples didn't think he could win the tournament because Bernhard Langer had been so hot.

But on Sunday at Newport Beach Country Club, Couples grabbed momentum on his back nine to give himself an opportunity. Still a victory wasn't close to being secured because at one point nine golfers had held or shared the lead. Six were tied for the lead with three holes remaining.

But Couples shot a five-under-par 66 in his final round and finished at 15-under 198 to become the second player in Toshiba Classic history to win the event twice, as he won it in 2010. Hale Irwin won the Toshiba in 1998 and 2002.

"I felt lucky," Couples, 54, said. "I know [Langer is] disappointed, because when he sits there and looks at it he probably feels like he could shoot 69 with his eyes closed because he plays this course so well."

Langer, who held a two-shot lead going into the final round, shot one-under 70 in his final round. He missed birdie putts on Nos. 17 and 18, the latter from about 20 feet away that would've forced a playoff.

Langer was disappointed about No. 18 because he had such a great drive. But his second shot went to the left of the green near a suite. His drop put him on grass and he said he could not get any spin on his shot that put him 20 feet past the cup.

His putt for birdie just missed to the left to seal Couples' 10th victory on the Champions Tour.

Couples said he gained confidence after seeing Colin Montgomerie's final round of nine-under 62 that put the Champions Tour rookie in the lead at 14 under. Montgomerie, a World Golf Hall of Famer, began the day eight shots behind the lead.

Couples began to believe he could also get to 14 under.

He admitted he was a bit nervous on the par-three 17th, when he stood over a birdie putt from four feet. He already started to think he could birdie No. 18 so he really wanted the birdie on No. 17, he said.

Following the birdie on No. 17, he was challenged with a tough chip after his second shot went past the green. But Couples got it to within six feet to sink the birdie on No. 18 that would give him the win.

"I got down there and somehow I got it up and down," Couples said of the par-five finishing hole. "It was not an easy pitch shot. To get it within six or seven feet was really a good shot."

Langer, Montgomerie and Steve Pate tied for second, one shot behind Couples.

Mark O'Meara, Michael Allen, Kenny Perry, Jeff Hart and Scott Dunlap finished tied for fifth at 13 under.

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