Cook in comfort zone

NEWPORT BEACH — As if John Cook needed more of an advantage at the Toshiba Classic this week.

The 11-time PGA Tour winner, who grabbed his ninth victory on the Champions Tour in January, doesn't totally have an edge on the Newport Beach Country Club golf course. But it's safe to say Cook is in his comfort zone.

He owns a home in nearby Corona del Mar and is just "five minutes," away from NBCC.

Cook calls it a bonus, as he looks to add to his hot start on the Champions Tour this year.

He opened the year with a victory at the Mitsubishi Electric at Hualalai in Hawaii.

He also had a tied-for-ninth at the Allianz Championship at Broken Sound, Boca Raton, Fla. and a T3 at the Ace Group Classic last month at the TwinEagles Golf Course in Naples, Fla.

He is No. 2 in the Charles Schwab Cup standings, the point system that factors into determining the Champions Tour Player of the Year.

"I don't get over here [at NBCC] a lot to play," Cook said. "I belong to Big Canyon up across the way, but it's a great spot, it really is. It's home for us. Family is around and we have lots of friends … there's no in between here. I found that playing in backyards, I've either won or I've not done well and it's one of the two, and hopefully the cycle is on the way up for this one, so that would be fun."

Cook said he usually lives three to four months out of the year in his CdM home, but lately the stays here are not as frequent. He's been working for the Golf Channel and taping shows near his other home in Florida.

When he's not playing, he's usually devoting time to perhaps making a future career in TV.

When he does play at Big Canyon Country Club, he said the members and golfers like Will Tipton, Mike Carpenter, Ron Lane and Danny Lane keep him sharp.

Cook tees off on No. 1 in the first round with Rocco Mediate and Bernhard Langer Friday at 11:55 a.m.

Mediate, Fred Couples and Jay Don Blake were among the leaders with a score of 54 for Thursday's Pro-Am.

Barry Schwartz, Jason Bonfig, Randy Wick and Raj Seth teamed with Mediate.

Mark Simons, Ron Frankle, Nikesh Arora and Hisatsugu Nonaka teamed with Couples.

Jonathan Elsbery, Graham Pierce, Dale Yahnke and John Foley were with Blake.

Hale Irwin (family reasons) and Jim Thorpe withdrew from the Toshiba Classic. Dick Mast and Morris Hatalsky have replaced them.

World Golf Hall of Famer Lee Trevino participated in the Toshiba Classic Pro-Am this week, but he is not in the tournament.

Tom Watson shared that he had dinner with the outgoing Trevino. Watson, the 39-time PGA Tour winner, said he enjoys speaking with Trevino because he sees and understands more of the game than others do.

The Toshiba Classic is in its 19th year, and this is the 18th at Newport Beach Country Club. That's the long running venue on the Champions Tour.

The par-71 course that is at 6,584 yards is the second shortest course on the 2013 Champions Tour. Only Del Monte Golf Course (72/6,357), one of two layouts used for the Nature Valley First Tee Open, is shorter.

Twitter: @SteveVirgen

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