NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Vijay Singh got up-and-down for birdie with a putter from off the green on the final hole for a one-shot victory in the Toshiba Classic on Sunday.
The 55-year-old Hall of Famer edged Tommy Tolles, Tom Pernice Jr. and Scott McCarron to win for the first time as an individual on the PGA Tour Champions. He teamed with Carlos Franco to win last year’s Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.
Singh has played a limited schedule on the 50-and-over tour while continuing to compete on the PGA Tour, where he has 34 career victories.
“I just put a lot of pressure on myself when I first came out here. Every time I teed up, you know, I was — I thought I had to win. The more I did that, the more I didn’t win, the harder it got,” Singh said. “This week was a little different. Last week I was sick with cold and flu, and this week kind of started out that way, so my expectation wasn’t very high. I just came out here, I said, ‘I’m just going to go out and play.'”
The Fijian closed with a 5-under 66 for a three-day total of 11-under 202 at Newport Beach Country Club.
“I always knew I was going to win out here, it was just a matter of time,” Singh said. “I was going to play a lot more this year anyway, so this is a good start and hopefully I’m going to win a few more.”
He got his stiffest challenge from Tolles, who was bogey-free before he three-putted the tough par-3 17th. Singh also bogeyed 17 to fall even with Tolles, whose chip from short of the green on the par-5 18th rolled 6 feet past. Tolles missed the birdie putt, opening the door for Singh playing behind him.
Tolles, winless in 233 career PGA Tour starts, earned full status on the PGA Tour Champions at Q School last fall. His best previous finish was a tie for 9th last week.
“Obviously I never won on the PGA Tour, so this is kind of like — you’ve heard that adage about same movie, same script, same ending? I have a little bit of that feeling, which is not a good feeling to have,” said Tolles, who closed with a 65.
“So I don’t know how many times you have to get in the competition or whatever before you can actually pull it out. Time’s limited, you’ve got to make the most of it. You know, I don’t know what to do. Right now I’m just really disappointed because things could have been so much easier, just two little 6-footers on 17 and 18 there and my whole world changes. But I guess that’s golf.”
Pernice and McCarron both needed eagle on 18 to match Singh and closed with birdies.