The layout at Newport Beach Country Club's course is short, but demands strategy, particularly putting on the poa annua greens.
The strategy became more challenging Saturday when Champions Tour players braved adverse conditions and a two-hour rain delay to complete the second round at the 18th
Mark Calcavecchia met the challenge. The 13-time
John Cook also shot a 67, a score that was rather impressive considering the conditions. Calcavecchia, the 1989 British Open champion, nearly got to 66 with an eagle opportunity on the par-5 18, but he just missed from nine feet and settled for a birdie tap-in at the cup.
"Cold I can handle pretty good and wind I'm all right with, but cold, wind and rain is a pretty wicked combo," Calcavecchia said of playing in the nasty weather. "It was pretty bad for a few holes there right before the delay."
Calcavecchia, 51, who has one win on the Champions Tour, is two shots ahead of
Mark McNulty (67-70), David Eger (66-71) and Bernhard Langer (65-72) are three shots back of the lead.
Tee times are set for 10 a.m. Sunday, but Calcavecchia could become the champion if the rain piles on at Newport Beach. Heavy rain and wind is expected again.
"It will come down to the greens that are very tricky and fast," said Couples, the 1992 Masters champion who won the Toshiba Classic in 2010. "If the wind is blowing that hard, you're going to have a lot of par putts."
Couples said his troublesome back didn't act up, but there was pain. His long driving has kept him in contention at this Champions Tour event. Despite the rain and wind, Couples still attracted a large gallery at Newport Beach. He had four birdies and two bogeys.
"It's cold for everybody," said Couples, the 2010 Champions Tour Rookie of the Year. "It's brutal out there."
Calcavecchia looks forward to the final round with a two-shot lead and the win in sight. He asked about the weather forecast and brushed aside any type of nerves.
"If I miss a few tomorrow I'm not going to worry about [it]," Calcavecchia said. "This is the Champions Tour for crying out loud, it's not the U.S. Openor