Newport Beach, CA – Newport Beach, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Bernhard Langer fired an 8-under 63 on Friday and grabbed a 2-stroke lead after the first round of the Toshiba Classic.
Langer won this title in 2008 and was the runner-up in 2012.
Fred Couples, the 2010 champion, carded a 6-under 65 and is tied for second place at Newport Beach Country Club with Chien Soon Lu and Jeff Hart.
Kenny Perry, Scott Simpson, Kirk Triplett, Duffy Waldorf and Michael Allen share fifth place at minus-5.
Langer burst out of the gate with birdies on one and two, from 10 and 15 respectively. He cooled off with four pars in a row. He birdied the seventh and ninth to make the turn at minus-4.
The 19-time winner on the Champions Tour followed his birdie on the ninth with another on No. 10. He reeled off four straight pars from the 11th.
Langer broke free from the pack as he birdied three of the last four holes to grab the first-round lead.
"I played really solid today, really solid throughout the whole back. I drove it great, I hit some good iron shots, hit pretty much every green or most greens in regulation and putted pretty solid, too," Langer said. "Poa annua greens are not easy to putt, so I was real happy with just about every club in my bag. Didn't make any major hiccups, rolled a couple of whatever, 15-footers in and missed a couple, too, but that's the norm out here."
Couples converted birdie chances at two and three. He came back with birdies at six and nine to turn in minus-4.
The 2010 winner again had back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12 to move into a share of the lead. Couples tripped to a bogey on No. 16, but 2-putted for birdie on the 18th to get back within two of Langer's lead.
Lu started on the back nine and opened with birdies on the 11th and 12th. He came back with birdies on 15 and 18. On the front nine, Lu grabbed a share of the lead as he birdied the third and fourth. He closed with five pars in a row to finish two back.
Hart quickly moved to 3-under as he birdied three of the first five holes. He posted six consecutive pars from the sixth to remain there.
He jumped to minus-6 with three birdies in a 4-hole span from the 12th. After stumbling to a bogey on the 16th, Hart birdied the 17th from 12 feet out to gain a piece of second place.
"I haven't played this course in two years and it was many years before that that I played it. I played years ago when they had a tournament here called the Taco Bell tournament. I always played well and I always thought it was a good course for me because it's kind of short and tricky and tight, which are the kind of courses I generally do well on," Hart said. "I don't hit the ball very far, so I've always thought this would be a good course for me, but I didn't have a good tournament here two years ago, blamed it on the weather."
NOTES: Langer has broken par in all 10 of his rounds this year, and 19 of his last 20 dating to last season ... This is the 18th time Langer has had the first-round lead on the Champions Tour ... Hart's 65 was his best start in 45 career tour events ... Defending champion David Frost posted a 1-over 72 and is tied for 61st.