Los Angeles Times

Kite in spotlight at breakfast

Breakfast With A Champion is an annual event during Toshiba Classic week in Newport Beach. The event is presented by the Allergan Foundation. Allergan, the pharmaceutical giant, is known for skin enhancements, including Botox. So every year, there is at least one joke about that, usually in relation to Newport Beach and Orange County.

Tom Kite, the World Golf Hall of Famer and featured speaker Tuesday morning, joked about it too, but referred to the tour he's playing on.

"The Champions Tour is our Botox," Kite said of the tour for golfers 50 and older. "We used to be called the Senior Tour. We went to sleep one night as seniors and woke up champions."

That caused laughter, followed by applause from the audience of around 450 at Balboa Bay Club & Resort.

Kite, who will compete in the 17th Toshiba Classic at Newport Beach Country Club Friday, is 61. He's also certainly accomplished enough to offer his take on Tiger Woods. It seems like everyone on the Champions Tour is being asked about Tiger.

Hank Adler, the Toshiba Classic chairman emeritus and question-and-answer moderator, made sure to ask about the famous golfer trying to regain his dominant form.

Same question, not much of a different answer.

Kite said if he were Tiger he would watch film of when he played at his best because that's what Kite has done in the past.

"Go to 2000," he said.

Kite also said Tiger was the best player in the game when he had Butch Harmon as a swing coach.

"Tiger has not been as good since then," Kite said.

Last week, Lee Trevino, who's also in the Toshiba Classic, also suggested Tiger go back to the film. Trevino also said to get rid of so many people who coach him.

Kite was more candid and humorous when he talked about his own past. Adler asked about sharing the NCAA individual championship with Ben Crenshaw.

"I don't know if I ever should say that the NCAA did something right, but they did the right thing there," Kite quipped.

He admitted he didn't like the sharing of the title at the time, but has grown to appreciate it as the years went by. Crenshaw, who is also in the Toshiba Classic, remains a close friend.

Kite, a 19-time PGA Tour winner, also talked about his 1992 U.S. Open victory, as well as his Ryder Cup experiences. He credited his father, as well as famed instructor Harvey Penick and other role models for his success.

"He's a gentleman, he's the real deal," Adler said of Kite. "It was just an honor to be sitting next to him for 45 minutes.

"How do you define real deal? Here's a guy who's done everything he could do in his sport. He's a class member in his community. And he appears not to take credit for anything. He's just a good guy."


Kite, who has 10 Champions Tour titles, revealed his favorites to win the Toshiba Classic after he was done with the Q-and-A session.

He said defending champion Fred Couples and 2008 Classic champ Bernhard Langer are the guys to beat

"Freddy and Bernhard Langer are the top two players on the Champions Tour," Kite said. "You would have to pick those guys as the favorites, but there are a lot of guys playing well right now."


The breakfast also featured a video of the Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center, which is part of Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian. The Toshiba Classic has raised $13 million over the past 13 years for Hoag Hospital. This year money will go to the diabetes center.


It appears rain won't dampen play at the 17th annual Toshiba Classic at Newport Beach Country Club.

Sunny weather and temperatures in the lower 70s are expected throughout the week, according to weather.com.

Last year, rain delayed second-round play and prevented record-breaking attendance numbers. An estimated 25,500 spectators came to watch the first day of the tournament in 2010, setting a Toshiba Classic record for first-round attendance. But the numbers went down with rain in the second round.

The numbers might be broken this year without the threat of rain.

Couples helped bring a large crowd last year. He might do it again, as he's grouped with Tom Watson and Crenshaw in the first round Friday. Those two will certainly attract many, as well. They tee off at 11:27 at hole No. 1.


The Toshiba Classic has been played at Newport Beach Country Club since 1996 and it will remain there for at least two more years.

Perry Dickey, general manager of NBCC, said the club agreed to an extension with Toshiba Classic that the Champions Tour event will be played there 2012 and 2013.

Dickey said the extension was made two months ago.

"As far as my two cents, and I don't mean to speak for [anyone else], I don't want it to ever go away," Dickey said Monday.

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