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Volume 8, Issue 24  |  March 24, 2023Subscribe

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Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

Rain washes out half of Hoag Classic Pro-Am but hopefully clear skies remain now through Sunday

TJ headshot AugA tough couple of days for the many local amateur supporters of the Hoag Classic who signed up to play 36 holes over two days in the Legends Pro-Am. Rain canceled all of Wednesday’s planned rounds, after the day’s two 18-hole formats had earlier been converted to two 9-hole events, in an attempt to save them.

Then, with rain temporarily in the rearview mirror, Thursday’s rounds went off as planned. The difference was NO crowds were allowed onto the grounds for the day. So, that meant the usual family members and friends, who normally come out to cheer the amateurs on, couldn’t. So, no one to complain to when they were playing bad and worse yet, nobody to share that “great shot” with.

And, although the Pro-Am is THE important fundraising component of the tournament, there are still a number of other things that combine to make Hoag Classic Week special.

Tuesday morning, at the VEA Newport Beach, 400+ guests enjoyed a very entertaining and detailed interview conducted by local Newport Beach orthopedic surgeon Alan Beyer, MD, with PGA Tour Hall of Fame member and Newport Beach resident Fred Couples.

Couples and Dr. Beyer bantered back-and-forth, beginning by touching on Fred’s decision early in life to move away from his family’s favorite sport of baseball and on to golf; to his early college years at the University of Houston, where he roomed with another longtime PGA tour member Blaine McCallister, and CBS lead sports announcer Jim Nantz; he talked about Augusta and what winning the Masters meant to his career; about his friendships on Tour, including a special one with Tiger Woods; and, he offered his thoughts and opinions on the recently introduced LIV tour, calling the players out for their false representations of why they made the move, what he thought they were now missing and the fact that he really didn’t care one way or the other whether it makes it or not.

Fair Game Fred Couples SNN 3.17

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Courtesy of Hoag Classic

Newport Beach resident and Hall of Fame golfer Fred Couples entertains at the Champions Breakfast

Fred also widely praised the track out at Newport Beach Country Club as one of the tour’s best, and the love the players have for Newport Beach on the whole.

Now though, we move to 54 holes that will ultimately lead to a champion on Sunday afternoon. So, who will win? Names that would seem to factor in would seem to include Couples, who says he’s playing well; Bernhard Langer, who week-in and week-out is at or near the top of the tour and has been in what seems to have been forever; Chris DiMarco, who at 54 is still a relative youngster on this tour or David Duval, who, better yet, is only 51, and at one time was the best player in the game; and then Jim Furyk, at 52; or Padraig Harrington, who won the 2022 season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship; and, it would seem that Davis Love III and Steve Stricker would also be worthy of watching.

Fair Game golfer in white with stripes SNN 3.17

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Courtesy of Hoag Classic

Jim Furyk, a three-time PGA Tour Champions winner

But at the end of the day, it’s truly anyone’s guess. Remember in 2006, the “Beer Man” Mark Johnson won, holing out for eagle on 18 in Sunday’s final round to win by four. It’s kind of proof of that point.

If you’re planning to go out to the tournament this weekend, here are a couple of things that should be of interest.

First, tomorrow (March 18) is Military Appreciation Day, presented by CoreLogic. All active duty, military reserve, national guard, military retirees and veterans receive complimentary admission and food service for themselves and a guest.

Then, following the day’s golf, a military charity presentation will take place on the 18th green and there will be the recognition of local honorees who have distinguished themselves. These individuals will then be added to the Colonel Norman G. Ewers Military Wall of Honor, which pays special tribute to our honorees in perpetuity.

The tournament also donates to numerous military charities. Last year, the Hoag Classic donated more than $125,000 to partner organizations, including the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, the Blue Angels Foundation, United States Navy Memorial and the Heart of a Lion Foundation. Each year the program continues to grow with the support of our many corporate partners.

It’s a special time and a lot of work goes into it, courtesy of event chair and local attorney/Newport Beach resident Bob Callahan.

Then, Sunday’s final round is presented by Kingston Technology who also underwrites Student Day. All students 18 and under get in free for the day.

Kingston Technology also adds to the mix by contributing a number of scholarships, last year presenting six at $5,000 each.

• • •

Hoag Classic Executive Director Jeff Purser is in his final run of overseeing the tournament. After 25 years, Jeff plans to return to Youngstown, Ohio, where he grew up. 

During his oversight, Purser has made the Hoag Classic (previously the Toshiba Classic) into arguably the PGA Tour Champions most admired and respected event, during which time they have raised some $20 million for local charities.

He will be missed!

• • •

If you watched the Academy Awards last Sunday, and paid attention, you perhaps noticed several presentations exquisitely produced by Visit Newport Beach.

The first one came in ABC7/KABC’s On the Red Carpet After the Awards segment, which featured an interactive interview with the Visit Newport Beach CEO Gary Sherwin. During it, Sherwin helped showcase different locations in Newport Beach from iconic films and shows such as All Quiet on the Western Front, Gilligan’s Island, To Have and Have Not, The OC and more.

The second one came immediately following the Oscars in the form of a 30-second spot that began in old black and white clips and segueing to today’s market beauty.

You really should check them both out by clicking the two links above.

• • •

Monday is big stuff and you’re invited to join in and celebrate. Of course, we’re talking just about here in the Northern Hemisphere. Yup, the vernal equinox occurs that day meaning the sun crosses the celestial equator going from south to north. You might know it as, Spring arrives. 

That evening, from 6:30-7:30 p.m., a guided sunset hike will take place at Crystal Cove State Park. You’re invited to join a park naturalist on a moderate one-hour hike and learn about some of the “crepuscular” animals that live in the backcountry. 

Meet at the Ranger Station (PCH inland at stoplight School-State Park, follow signs towards the Ranger Station). Wear sturdy shoes, bring water and dress in layers. $5 sunset rate. 

• • •

Finally, it is with tremendous sadness that I tell you Newport Beach City Councilmember Robyn Grant’s husband, David, passed away early Wednesday morning of this week.

David was often by Robyn’s side during her year-long campaign effort for office, which would in itself be a miracle for most people considering how on-the-go Robyn always is. He had been struggling recently with various health issues, but his passing certainly didn’t appear to be imminent.

My condolences go out to Robyn and the Grant children.

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