Bernhard Langer has record in sight as Hoag Classic returns to Newport Beach Country Club

Bernhard Langer watches his approach shot to the 16th hole during the opening round of last year's Hoag Classic.
Bernhard Langer watches his approach shot to the 16th hole during the opening round of last year’s Hoag Classic at Newport Beach Country Club.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

He may now be 65 years old, but Bernhard Langer keeps going like a well-oiled machine in PGA Tour Champions events.

The same could be said of the Hoag Classic at Newport Beach Country Club.

Orange County’s only PGA Tour event returns next week, with the three-day tournament happening March 17 through 19.


As usual, Newport Beach is expecting a star-studded field for the Hoag Classic, which features Hoag Health System as the title sponsor and beneficiary. Top names like Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, John Daly and Newport Beach resident Fred Couples are also expected to participate.

“The field’s ridiculous,” tournament executive director Jeff Purser said. “I talked to the Champions Tour president [Tuesday] and he said he thinks it will be the best field of the entire year, including majors, because the majors have a very different qualifying set than we do. It’s pretty exciting to have it, that’s for sure.”

World Golf Hall of Fame member Retief Goosen is the defending tournament champion, but Langer also draws plenty of attention. He won the tournament in 2008, when it was known as the Toshiba Classic, and comes to Newport Beach this time around with a record-tying 45 Champions Tour wins after capturing the Chubb Classic in Naples, Fla. last month.

Retief Goosen holds up the championship trophy after winning last year's Hoag Classic at the Newport Beach Country Club.
(James Carbone)

Langer, the oldest tournament winner in tour history, is currently tied with Hale Irwin for most titles. But the German could have the record all to himself if he can win again in Newport. Only three players have won the Hoag Classic twice: Irwin (1998 and 2002), Jay Haas (2007 and 2016) and Couples (2010 and 2014).

“He’s on the cusp,” Purser said. “It would be pretty exciting for him to pass that threshold here. Certainly it’s a golf course he’s capable of winning on.”

Paul Goydos, a Long Beach native who now lives in Dove Canyon, has a pair of top-10 finishes at the Hoag Classic. The 58-year-old enjoys the benefits of a close-by tournament, but said Newport Beach Country Club can be challenging.

“If things start well, I tend to play well there,” he said. “When things get a little off-track, I tend to really struggle. I think you need to manage your expectations a little bit. It’s one of those golf courses where no matter what you shoot, you feel like you should have shot a few shots lower, but no one ever does. You need to really pay attention or you can make mistakes, and they tend to bite you there.”

David Toms, 56, earned his third PGA Tour Champions win by capturing the Cologuard Classic tournament last week in Arizona. He will look to keep up his hot play in the early season at the Hoag Classic.

“I enjoy that part of the country,” Toms said. “My dad lived in Fullerton when I was in high school, so I always enjoy coming back to that area. They put on a good show. Obviously Hoag is big in that community, and they run a really nice event.”

Fred Couples of Newport Beach chips the ball onto the green of the 18th hole during the Hoag Classic in 2020.
Fred Couples of Newport Beach chips the ball onto the green of the 18th hole during the Hoag Classic at the Newport Beach Country Club in 2020.
(Drew A. Kelley)

Tournament week starts with a private event, the Hoag Classic Hall of Fame Community Breakfast, on Tuesday morning at VEA Newport Beach Resort & Spa. Couples is the featured speaker.

The Legends Pro-Am, which is open to the public, takes place Wednesday and Thursday before the tournament itself starts Friday. Saturday is Military Appreciation Day, and Sunday is Student Day.

Langer will be one of the more popular players out on the course, and for good reason.

“When he won a couple of weeks ago at Naples, we were tied for the lead after the first round,” Goydos said. “I played with him the second day, and Bernhard being Bernhard, he doesn’t really make mistakes. He keeps himself in everything, never really gets too out of position. He doesn’t look overly impressive, he just beats you by three or four shots every round. He just doesn’t ever beat himself.

“He’s always in a position where he’s really not going to hurt himself too much. That’s hard to do over a tournament, let alone over 15 years.”


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