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SENIOR GOLF AT NEWPORT BEACH

A Classic Finish to Savor

Murphy and Sigel went round and round on the final three holes at Newport Beach before Murphy won with an 80-foot putt.

March 12, 1998|MARTIN BECK

The 1997 Toshiba Senior Classic went overtime with Bob Murphy and Jay Sigel battling for nine extra holes until Murphy's 80-foot putt finally put an end to the tournament and $150,000 into Murphy's pocket.

The 1 1/2-hour playoff, then the longest in Senior PGA Tour history, played out on Newport Beach Country Club's 16th, 17th and 18th holes, focusing more attention on the course's fine finishing holes.

They are set up in a clockwise circle, something that Sigel obviously noticed. "I was sort of getting dizzy," he said after the playoffs. "We were going around and around and around."

Call it Merry-Go-Round Corner.

It's a place that likely will provide drama as long as the Senior Tour holds a tournament here, even without playoffs. Simply put it's a good place to play catch-up. Sigel, for instance, forced the playoff with birdies on each of the holes in the final round.

That was a rare feat, only the par-five 18th is considered an easy birdie hole. The par-three 17th, which gave up the fewest amount of birdies (13) of any hole in the 1997 tournament, won't be getting easier--its length has been increased five yards--to 190--this year.

With the help of Murphy, who won the 1996 tournament, here's a closer look at the final holes:

Merry-Go-Round Corner at Newport Beach Country Club,

No. 16, Par 4, 437 yards

"Normally for us No. 16 is a driver, five to seven iron, maybe eight iron. However if the wind blows--and it can, as it is now--then it can play a little longer."

No. 17, Par 3, 190 yards

"It's a very, very difficult hole. No. 1 you know you can't miss it short. No. 2 you can't miss it to the right but by the way if you miss the green to the left you've got very, very little chip shot to work with."

No. 18, Par 5, 510 yards

"The long hitters of course can knock it on it two. With the fairways as firm as they are this year, we'll see a lot of eagles on this hole. So it will be an exciting hole to watch."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Seniors on Parade

Here's a look at the tournament:

Schedule: Begins at 8 a.m. Friday, 7:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday

The course: Newport Beach Country Club, 1600 East Pacific Coast Highway

Television: ESPN, Friday, noon-2 p.m.; Saturday, 2:30-4 p.m.; Sunday, 2:30-4 p.m.

Last year: Bob Murphy won playoff with Jay Sigel on the ninth extra hole.

Tickets: $15 daily

Information: (714) 515-4840

Parking: At Newport Dunes through Friday and at Fashion Island Saturday and Sunday. Free shuttle service will be provided.

*

WHO'S HOT: Gil Morgan, the second-leading money winner in 1997, has won two of five official tournaments and won the Senior Slam Tuesday.

WHO'S NOT: Graham Marsh, seventh on the money list last year with two victories, has only one top-10 finish, sixth at the LG Championship.

TOUGHEST HOLE: No. 5, a 455-yard par-four requires two hard woods for most players. It usually plays into the wind, making it even tougher.

BEST VIEWING: A small hill behind the sixth tee gives clear views of players putting on Nos. 2, 7, 11 and 5 and tee shots on Nos. 3 and 6

*

HOLE BY HOLE

*--*

HOLE PAR YARDS 1 4 339 2 4 390 3 5 532 4 3 143 5 4 455 6 4 418 7 4 360 8 3 203 9 4 407 10 4 416 11 4 344 12 4 370 13 3 170 14 4 397 15 5 492 16 4 437 17 3 190 18 5 510

*--*

PAR TOTAL - 71

YARDS TOTAL - 6,573

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