Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

 

Harrington fights through wind and rain to win Hoag Classic…and that was only part of the weekend filled with community-related events

Heck, with a Saturday morning filled with non-stop rain, followed by a Sunday that was cold and windy, was it any surprise that Ireland’s Padraig Harrington found a way to not only survive, but to win the 2024 Hoag Classic at Newport Beach Country Club? I jokingly commented to someone on the first tee about Harrington and the weather, saying, “Oh, it’s like summertime compared to where he’s from.”

And trust me, I speak from experience, remembering back to a summer golf trip some years back to Ireland where wind and rain seemed to be the norm.

Anyway, Harrington fired a two-under-par 69 on Sunday that included a 15-foot downhill putt on 17 and an eight-footer on 18 for a one-shot come-from-behind win over Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee. The round for Harrington included two double bogeys on the par-3 4th hole and the par-4 16th, but he still managed to finish 14 under for the tournament.

Jaidee, Harrington and Spain’s Miguel Ángel Jiménez all came to the par-5 final hole, each with legitimate shots at victory. Harrington’s tee shot was well right and somewhat short after apparently striking a tree, leaving him with a wood that would eventually find the greenside trap nearly pin high to the left of the green.

Jiménez then hit his second shot, leaving it short on the right-hand side; followed by Jaidee, who appeared to have the best shot and then wresting control of the tournament. However, he left his second shot short left, leaving himself a then awkward approach up to the pin.

Jaidee, going first, pitched to the hole but failed to spin the ball enough and it scooted over the back of the green. He eventually chipped back and knocked in his short par putt.

Jiménez appeared to then have a fairly straight-forward pitch-and-run, but he left the shot considerably short and could only salvage a two-putt.

That set the table for Harrington, who was left with a sand shot on the uphill face of the trap, that he played out, leaving himself eight feet. He then used all of the cup to knock in the putt for his seventh PGA TOUR Champions victory.

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Courtesy of Hoag Classic

2024 Hoag Classic Champion Padraig Harrington sports his “Doctor of Golf” physician’s coat while holding the winning crystal

Immediately afterwards Harrington said, “I thought I played really well; I drove it great all day (and) kept leaving myself downhill putts. I was delighted there on the last hole that it was eight feet uphill.

“This is a perfect golf course (for me)…I can open my shoulders, hit my driver most of the time, and it gave me a big advantage this week, especially in the wind today.”

Others finishing well up the leaderboard included Canada’s Stephen Ames in fourth at 11 under following his final round 67; Jerry Kelly (67) and K.J. Choi (68) were both a shot back at 10 under, with Steve Stricker (70) another stroke back at 9 under.

Other finishers in the top 10 included Ricardo Gonzalez at -8, followed by David Bransdon and Paul Goydos at -7.

Harrington won $300,000.

• • •

Other Hoag Classic News & Notes:

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Submitted photo

Eagle Four Partners’ Kory Kramer and Hoag Classic Executive Director Scott Easton had much to smile about throughout the course of the week

–“Newport Beach has served as home to the Hoag Classic from its inception and remains a player favorite on the PGA TOUR Champions. A tremendous thanks to Hoag as title sponsor, our presenting partners City National Bank and McCarthy Building Companies, more than 200 other corporate partners, and our tremendous volunteers who help make this event possible.” –Scott Easton, executive director of the Hoag Classic.

–“This year’s Hoag Classic was once again an outstanding event. Hoag is proud to be a partner and beneficiary of the annual tournament. Through the incredible generosity and support from the Hoag Classic, we’ve been able to significantly expand access to the world-class health and wellness services Hoag provides.” –Robert T. Braithwaite, president and CEO of Hoag.

• • •

Congratulations to long-time community volunteer and Hoag supporter Bob Callahan on his recognition of being selected into the Hoag Charity Sports Hall of Fame.

The Hoag Charity Sports Hall of Fame “recognizes the PGA TOUR champions and community leaders whose contributions have helped Hoag stage the most philanthropic event in PGA TOUR Champions history.”

Bob has been a volunteer and leader in the Hoag Classic for years, dating all the way back to its arrival in Newport Beach.

His service includes being a member of the initial Community Relations Committee, which initially connected the event to local businesses and individuals; chairing the annual Military Appreciation Day at the tournament and serving on the Hoag Classic’s volunteer operational committee as the tournament’s Starters Chairman since 1998.

He has also served on numerous leadership roles for Hoag, including the Hoag Hospital Foundation Board (1998-2008), Hoag Hospital’s 552 Club (1991-1998), the Hoag Promise Campaign (2012-2013) and the Jeffrey M. Carlson Heart & Vascular Institute Campaign Committee (2012-2020).

Bob, known by many as the “Voice on the First Tee,” is a local attorney. He and his wife Terry, also a leading Hoag volunteer, live happily in Newport Beach.

Congratulations and well-deserved Bob!

• • •

Following the finish of an exhilarating first round, sponsors, partners and friends of the Hoag Classic celebrated that evening at the Opening Party hosted at VEA Newport Beach’s pool deck Edge Bar, featuring a performance by nationally acclaimed multi-platinum country recording artist Parmalee.

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Photo by Lana Johnson

American country music band Parmalee was the surprise entertainment at Friday’s Opening Night VEA Newport Beach Hoag Classic party

• • •

Saturday (March 23) honored current and former servicemen and women with Military Appreciation Day, presented by CoreLogic.

This year’s honorees included: Colonel Robert Chandler, USAF; Staff Sergeant Tracie Murray, ARNG; Specialist Wally Ziegler, Major Hammond McKie Salley and Captain Kim Buike, USN (Retired); Lieutenant Ed Roski, USMC; Captain Kent Valley, USMC; Colonel Melvin K. F. Lee, USFA (Retired) and Commander Thomas Velling M.D. USN.

• • •

Military Appreciation Day also featured the inaugural Celebrity Challenge with former Angels pitcher Jim Abbott; NFL/USC running back Reggie Bush; Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk and NFL/USC quarterback Matt Barkley. The group played a 2-man best ball with Abbott and Faulk winning $18,000 for the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation, while Bush and Barkley won $15,000 for the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.

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Courtesy of Hoag Classic

Former Angels legend Jim Abbott waits to put the ball in the air to kick off the Celebrity Challenge

• • •

Sunday (March 24) was Student Day, presented by Kingston Technology, who awarded $70,000 in scholarships to the Hoag Employee Scholarship Program for non-nursing employees who are actively pursuing education to advance their careers at Hoag.

Recipients included: Adela Zuniga, Lindsey Borrego, Michael Ho, Peter Micheal, Rena Cabera, Juana Rosa Fields, Sebastian Cox, Lorena Hurtado Amaro, Sharon Correa, Devyn Fox, Peyton Hernandez, Brian Hodges, Manuel Trujillo Maciel and Monique Porraz.

• • •

Elsewhere around town:

THE TEEN PROJECT Orange County is back with their annual benefit this year at Saks Fifth Avenue in South Coast Plaza on Sunday, May 5. It’s NOT just another run-of-the-mill fundraiser. No, this one is specifically designed to assist teens, many of whom have aged out of foster care and find themselves homeless within weeks of their emancipation from the system.

Where can they turn when they potentially face nothing but despair?

THE TEEN PROJECT provides these at-risk teens “the resources and support of a family unit, by providing such things as safe housing, financial support towards higher education, counseling and mentoring on how to lead a productive, happy and healthy life.”

So how does THE TEEN PROJECT do it?

By providing services such as Sober College Housing, Teen Project Shelter Collaboration, The Meeting Places Program, The TEXT Shelter service and the National Mentoring Program. But, it takes more than just people who care; it takes funds.

And would you believe that there are some 25,000 teens exiting this “system” each year only to arrive in homelessness?

This special fundraising Annual Fashion Show, their 10th anniversary celebration benefit, is perhaps their most important way to make the above happen.

Go here to find out more about THE TEEN PROJECT, how you can get involved and support this annual fundraiser to make a difference.

• • •

Don’t forget, we are currently trying, with the help of Visit Newport Beach, to find the BEST BURGER in Newport Beach.

Step one – we’re currently seeking nominations for those burgers that should be considered. We’ll then take those and allow the community to vote as part of step two. Then, for step three, we’ll take the top five selected by the community and bring in our judges for a blind tasting to find the Best of NB.

Our judges are Celebrity Chef Jamie Gwen, Newport Harbor Yacht Club Director Ray Jacobi (who famously ran the iconic Ritz Restaurant and the Four Seasons Hotel for many years), and John Wortmann, chairman of the Balboa Bay Club and a frequent diner at many restaurants.

Go to Best of NB and let us know your choice. You’re on the clock!


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