Monday, March 19, 2012


NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) -- Loren Roberts shot a 69 on Sunday to win the Toshiba Classic by two strokes over Mark Calcavecchia, Tom Kite and Bernhard Langer.
Roberts made a 5-foot birdie putt on the final hole to ensure the victory eight-under-par 205 after bogeys on three of the previous four holes.
"We did make it interesting," he said. "We got off to the start you dream of doing, but hit a snag on the back."
Roberts began the day two strokes behind Calcavecchia, but made birdies on three of his first four holes. Even with a bogey on the seventh hole, Roberts was able to maintain a two-stroke lead, until the 16th hole. He missed a 3-foot par putt on 16 after his second shot hit a spectator box.
On the 17th hole, Roberts bogeyed again, unable to get up and down after his tee shot came to rest in the right greenside rough. He missed a 6-foot par saving putt.
"I kind of let everybody in the game," Roberts said. "I got out of rhythm. I didn't hit bad putts. The only bad putt I hit was on 12."
Langer, who was in the group in front of Roberts, was two strokes behind but made a double-bogey on the 17th hole when his putt from the fringe on the par 3, rolled into the right greenside bunker.
"I didn't think I hit that bad a putt," Langer said. "Actually when I hit the putt I thought it was pretty good. It was accelerating instead of slowing down. Once it got 3 yards past the hole there was no stopping it. The pin is pretty brutal."
The Champions Tour victory was Roberts' 13th and he earned $262,500. His last victory was in 2010, 21 months and a 34-tournament span.
"I was getting a little worried about it," Roberts said of not winning. "This was huge for me."
Known as one of the better putters on tour, it was ironic that his putting let him down, especially on No. 16 and 17, where his putts were both less than 6 feet.
"So I'm thinking this putt, I'm just going to ease it down there," Roberts said about the putt on 16. "It's got to go left?to?right. You know, I just lipped it out on the left side. I probably gave it too much break."
Roberts is ranked fourth on the Champions Tour in putting average at 1.71 and 13th in putts per round with 28.92.
This week was no different -- he was second in putting rank average but did stumble when he needed to make putts. Fortunately the one putt he needed, a 5-footer on the final hole, he drained.
Roberts did some tinkering with his putting stroke last week and was satisfied with the change.
"I was struggling with the putter last year to be honest with you," Loren said. "I made a big change last week at home when I was messing around with it and looked at some old films, and I saw that my shaft position at impact, before when I was putting good, I had a little bit more shaft lean."
Conventional thinking on the Champions Tour is that golfers have a five-year window from when they join to tour at 50 as far as winning. Roberts at 56 was starting to wonder if his time had passed.
"They always say the cut-off age  is 55," Roberts said. "I was getting a little worried about it. I had a couple of chances last year. But really didn't play good enough to really warrant a win last year. This really was huge for me today. "
Last year Roberts was winless. Though he finished four times in the top 10, he was frustrated at his play.
"I was getting a little hacked off at my game," Roberts said. "I wasn't happy with where I was hitting. I was trying to force it a little bit."
Bernard Langer, who finished joint second alongside Tom Kite and Mark Calcavecchia, believes Roberts can win more.
"We all know he is a wonderful putter, has a great short game," Langer said. "He hits the ball usually very straight. You can say yes I'm surprised he hasn't won more. On the other hand there are a lot of other great players out here that can win, too."
Roberts is going to work on trying to keep his career momentum going.
"I've got some things to work on my golf swing," Roberts said. "We all do. We are never happy with how we play."

Par 213 (3x71)
Players from US unless stated
205 Loren Roberts 66 70 69 ($262,500)
207 Tom Kite 66 72 69, Bernhard Langer 65 72 70, Mark Calcavecchia 67 67 73 ($128,041 each)
208 Mark McNulty (Ireland) 67 70 71, Joey Sindelar 67 71 70, David Eiger 66 71 71 ($72,041 each).
209 Bobby Clampett 65 74 70, Fred Couples 67 69 73, John Huston 69 71 69, Steve Pate 66 73 79 ($48,125 each).
225 Sandy Lyle (Scotland) 73 76 76  (T70) ($1,382).



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