Champions Golf Tour
CHAMPIONS - The ACE Group Classic Preview
From The Sports Network

DATES: Friday, February 20th through Sunday, February 22nd
SITE: TPC Treviso Bay, Naples, Florida
COURSE ARCHITECT: Arthur Hills, Hal Sutton (2008)
PAR: 72
YARDAGE: 7,005
Hole-By-Hole:1 - Par 4 415 Yds10 - Par 4 435 Yds
2 - Par 5 511 Yds11 - Par 4 340 Yds
3 - Par 3 180 Yds12 - Par 5 557 Yds
4 - Par 5 566 Yds13 - Par 4 406 Yds
5 - Par 4 349 Yds14 - Par 3 185 Yds
6 - Par 4 395 Yds15 - Par 4 430 Yds
7 - Par 3 216 Yds16 - Par 4 447 Yds
8 - Par 4 430 Yds17 - Par 3 211 Yds
9 - Par 4 392 Yds18 - Par 5 540 Yds
--------------------------
36 3,454 Yds36 3,551 Yds
 
Annual:  22nd
Television:  Golf Channel - Friday -- 12:30-2:30 p.m. (et),
  Saturday/Sunday -- 1-4 p.m. (et)
Defending Champion:  Scott Hoch
Runner-Up:  Tom Kite, Brad Bryant, Tom Jenkins
Tournament Record:  197 (Jimmy Powell, 1992)
36-Hole Record:  130 (Tom Watson, 2002)
18-Hole Record:  62 (Gary Koch, 2004 -- TwinEagles)
9-Hole Record:  28 (Gary Koch, 2004 -- TwinEagles)
Total Purse:  $1,600,000
Shares:  1st Place - $240,000; 2nd Place - $140,800; 3rd Place - $115,200
 
2008 Finish
PlayerScorePlayerScore
Scott Hoch *202Loren Roberts204
Tom Kite202Jeff Sluman204
Brad Bryant202Five players at205
Tom Jenkins202
Nick Price203

* - Won in Playoff

 
Past ACE Group Classic Winners
YearWinner (Score) -- Runners-Up
2008*Scott Hoch (202) -- Tom Kite, Brad Bryant, Tom Jenkins
2007Bobby Wadkins (201) -- Allen Doyle
2006Loren Roberts (202) -- Brad Bryant, R.W. Eaks
2005Mark James (203) -- Hale Irwin, Tom Wargo
2004*Craig Stadler (206) -- Tom Watson, Gary Koch
2003Vicente Fernandez (202) -- Tom Watson, Des Smyth
2002Hale Irwin (200) -- Tom Watson
2001Gil Morgan (204) -- Dana Quigley
2000*Lanny Wadkins (202) -- Tom Watson, Walter Hall, Jose Maria Canizares
1999Allen Doyle (203) -- Vicente Fernandez
1998Gil Morgan (210) -- Dale Douglass, Ray Floyd
1997Hale Irwin (201) -- Bob Murphy
1996Al Geiberger (202) -- Isao Aoki
1995#Bob Murphy (137) -- Ray Floyd
1994Mike Hill (201) -- Tom Wargo
1993Mike Hill (202) -- Dave Stockton
1992Jimmy Powell (197) -- Lee Trevino
1991Lee Trevino (205) -- Dale Douglass
1990Lee Trevino (200) -- Bruce Crampton
1989Gene Littler (209) -- Harold Henning
1988Gary Player (207) -- Dave Hill

* - Won in Playoff

# - Rain Shortened

Note:Previously called Aetna Challenge (1988-92), Better Homes and
Gardens Challenge (1993), Intellinet Challenge (1994-95), Greater Naples Intellinet Challenge (1996), LG Championship (1997-98).

Top Contenders in the Field
Player1999200020012002200320042005200620072008
Scott Hoch------------------------T-11Won
Brad Bryant------------------T-28T-2T-11T-2
Tom Kite------4thT-53T-7T-15---T-11T-23T-2
Tom JenkinsT-11T-18T-34T-9T-7T-30T-8T-664thT-2
Nick Price------------------------T-275th
Loren Roberts---------------------WonT-5T-6
Jeff Sluman---------------------------T-6
Bobby Wadkins---------T-12---T-10T-32T-24WonT-16
Keith Fergus------------------T-41T-14T-36T-16
Gil MorganT-36T-36Won11thT-4T-4T-22T-24T-11T-21
Andy Bean---------------T-63T-57---T-7T-25
Bruce Fleisher---T-18T-8T-22T-24T-35T-12T-56T-11T-25
Morris Hatalsky------------T-17T-7T-8T-24T-29T-27
Vicente Fernandez2ndT-13T-8T-64WonT-59T-49T-53T-29T-27
Allen DoyleWon5thT-5T-5T-28T-30T-49T-292ndT-30
Craig Stadler---------------WonT-36------T-30
Don Pooley---------T-12---T-7T-12T-6T-9T-35
Bruce Lietzke---------T-12T-14---T-8T-41T-29T-35
Tom Purtzer---------T-12T-4T-30T-19T-62T-36T-35
Mark McNulty------------------T-36T-11---T-35
John Cook---------------------------T-35
Mike Goodes---------------------------T-35
Wayne Grady---------------------------T-35
Dana QuigleyT-29T-62ndT-5T-49T-47T-19T-14T-23T-43
Hale Irwin---------WonT-714thT-2T-4T-36T-43
R.W. Eaks------------------T-16T-270thT-48
Jerry Pate---------------T-59T-4T-17T-42T-53
Jim ThorpeT-19T-8T-34T-3T-7T-24T-22T-24T-42T-57
Tom WargoT-53T-36T-32T-22T-28T-35T-2T-71T-65T-66
Lanny Wadkins---WonT-43T-62------72nd------T-72
Jay Haas------------------------T-16---
Fulton Allem------------------------------
Bernhard Langer------------------------------
Sports Network Selections

Pick to Win - Bernhard Langer
Darkhorse - Tom Jenkins
 
Last Week's Pick to Win (Bernhard Langer) - Finished 3rd
Last Week's Darkhorse (Mark McNulty) - Finished tied for 18th
 
NOTES:
The Champions Tour completes its two-week stay in Florida this week with The ACE Group Classic in Naples. Mike Goodes captured the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton last week for his first Champions Tour title. Money leader Bernhard Langer, who won the Mitsubishi Electric Championship to start the season, is in the field along with Goodes. Seventeen of the top 18 players on the money list are competing this week. Mark James, who is seventh on the money list, is the only top 18 player not in the field.

Andy Bean has carded 10 straight rounds in the 60s on the Champions Tour. The record is 13 by Hale Irwin in 1999. Bean can tie the mark if he fires all three rounds in the 60s this week.

Twelve former champions of the tournament are playing this week. Defending champion Scott Hoch will be joined by Bobby Wadkins (2007), Loren Roberts (2006), Craig Stadler (2004), Vicente Fernandez (2003), Hale Irwin (1997, 2002), Gil Morgan (1998, 2001), Lanny Wadkins (2000), Allen Doyle (1999), Bob Murphy (1995), Lee Trevino (1990-91) and Gary Player (1988).

Last year, for the second straight week, Scott Hoch birdied the final two holes of the tournament on his way to winning. Hoch birdied the first playoff hole to defeat Tom Kite, Brad Bryant and Tom Jenkins and win the Ace Group Classic. Hoch, who birdied the 18th in regulation just to get into the extra session, birdied his final two holes the previous week to walk off with the Allianz Championship. It marked the first time Hoch won back-to-back events in his career. Hoch shot rounds of 67-67-68 to finish regulation at 14-under 202.

Eduardo Romero and Larry Nelson have withdrawn from this week's event. Tom Wargo and Chip Beck will fill their positions respectively. The tournament is being hosted by Peter Jacobsen. The inaugural winner of this event, Player, is also in the field. This will be Player's 20th appearance in Naples.

Last year, the first playoff hole was the par-five 18th at Quail West Naples and no one found the fairway off the tee, which would not be a huge issue since none of the quartet would be able to reach in two. Kite hit the worst of the lay up shots, finding a bunker. That left him with a difficult third that he hit short of the putting surface. Jenkins knocked his approach over the green leaving birdie up to Hoch and Bryant. Bryant hit his third 10 feet from the hole, but Hoch played his shot to eight feet. Bryant missed the birdie effort, leaving the door open for Hoch to win the championship. Hoch, with a little help from a memory on the last hole of regulation, converted the putt to collect the $240,000 first-place check. This week, Hoch will try to become the third player to successfully defend his title at this event, after Mike Hill (1993-94) and Trevino (1990-91).

In 2007, Bobby Wadkins birdied the final hole from 13 feet out to defeat Doyle by one. Wadkins shot three rounds in the 60s, including a course-record 64 at Quail West in the first round. With Wadkins' in 2007, Bobby and Lanny Wadkins (2000) joined Mike and Dave Hill as the only set of brothers to win the same event on the Champions Tour. Mike and Dave accomplished the feat twice, both winning the Fairfield Barnett Space Coast Classic (Dave in 1987, Mike in 1990) and the PaineWebber Invitational (Dave in 1988, Mike in 1993).

In 2006, Roberts shot rounds of 67-66-69 to win by one stroke over Bryant and R.W. Eaks. He finished the event at 14-under-par 202. The win was Roberts' third straight to open the 2006 Champions Tour season. He became the first player in Tour history to win each of the first three official events of the year.

The tournament will be played at the TPC Treviso Bay for the first time this year. The course was designed by Arthur Hills and Hal Sutton and opened for play in 2008. Sutton is in the field this week, playing in his fourth career Champions Tour event. Last week, Sutton tied for 70th, with his best round, a one-under 71 in round two.

TPC Treviso Bay is the eighth different course to host a Champions Tour event in Naples. The first three years of this tournament were played at The Club at Pelican Bay and from 1991-1995, The Vineyards Golf and Country Club was used. In 1996, The Classics at Lely Resort hosted the event before it moved to Bay Colony Golf Club from 1997-1999. Pelican Marsh Golf Club served as the venue for the tournament from 2000-01, while The Club at TwinEagles hosted the event from 2002-06 before moving to Quail West in 2007-08.

With last year's playoff, there have now been three playoffs in event history. The first was in 2000, when Lanny Wadkins defeated Jose Maria Canizares, Walter Hall and Tom Watson. The second was in 2004, when Craig Stadler knocked off Gary Koch and Tom Watson. Eleven of the previous 21 tournaments in Naples have been decided by either a playoff or a single stroke.

Just two players have posted wire-to-wire victories at The ACE Group Classic -- Trevino (1990) and Doyle (1999). Gene Littler (1989), Mike Hill (1993) and Murphy (1995) all led from start to finish, but shared the top spot at one point in their march to the title.

Doyle (1999) and Lanny Wadkins (2000) won their first Champions Tour titles in Naples, while Littler (1989) and Al Geiberger (1996) claimed their last events here. Trevino (1990) and Lanny Wadkins (2000) were rookies when they triumphed. Four players have won this event twice: Trevino (1990-91), Hill (1993-94), Irwin (1997, 2002) and Morgan (1998, 2001). Irwin is the all-time money leader at this event with $746,547 in earnings. When Lanny Wadkins won in 2000, he became just the ninth of 12 players to win in his Champions Tour debut. When Doyle won in 1999, he became the first player to win on both the Nationwide Tour and Champions Tour.

Littler is the oldest winner of this event, triumphing in the 1989 tournament at 58 years, seven months and five days. Lanny Wadkins is the youngest winner of The ACE Group Classic, winning at Pelican Marsh in 2000 at 50 years, two months and eight days.

The winner of The ACE Group Classic has come out of the final grouping in each of the last eight years. The last time it didn't happen was in 2000 when Lanny Wadkins needed a final-round 64 to rally from three strokes back and eventually triumph in a playoff.

The Champions Tour heads to California in two weeks for the Toshiba Classic, where 2008 Player of the Year Langer captured the first of his three titles last year.

02/17 17:25:02 ET

As of February 17, 2009, at 05:25 PM ET