NEWPORT BEACH — David Frost has had a hot start on the Champions Tour this year with three top-10 finishes in as many events, but a win has eluded him.
He was able to stay loose despite cold temperatures at Newport Beach Country Club to finish as the first-round leader, carding an eight-under-par 63 Friday at the Toshiba Classic.
Fred Couples is one shot behind and Jim Gallagher Jr. is at 66 heading into the second of three rounds.
Frost's bogey-free round featured eight birdies, including five on the back nine.
"I'm not trying to be cocky but I feel a lot more relaxed," the 53-year-old South African said of his recent run. "I don't feel too much pressure in my game, and it allows me a lot more freedom. And so what if I hit one or two bad shots? I feel that things are quite in place and until things go wrong, then I'll start worrying."
Frost, a 10-time PGA Tour winner, closed out 2012 just as strong as he started this year with three top-10 finishes, including a victory at the AT&T Championship in San Antonio for his third win on the Champions Tour.
The 56-degree cold didn't bother Couples, who said he's tight all the time, issues stemming from a troublesome back.
"I don't want to say it's an advantage for me," said Couples, the 2010 Toshiba champion. "I don't like feeling really cold and tight because I just came from the desert where it was 90 degrees and I practiced for a few days. I was never really loose. It was hot, but this is for me fine, great weather."
Couples, who has 15 wins on the PGA Tour and eight on the Champions Tour, birdied the par-four, 339-yard first hole, one of eight in his first round. He bogeyed the par-four 10th.
Gallagher was the early leader in the first round, at seven under through 16 holes, and he needed to be. His career-victories exemption status on the Champions Tour ends next week and he needs a win to stay on it.
Gallagher, who has his brother Jeff as his caddie, went bogey-bogey the final two holes. But he also had an eagle on the par-five third hole, helping him to his best round in his two years on the Champions Tour.
"You know, you can fight it like you did last year," Gallagher said, "or you can just play and take this as an opportunity, not as a death sentence."
He'll play on a sponsor's exemption next week at the Mississippi Golf Resort Classic.
Bernhard Langer, a two-time Masters champion who won the Toshiba Classic in 2008, is one of four who are four shots behind Frost, along with Chien Soon Lu, D.A. Weibring and Barry Lane.
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