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CHAMPIONS - The ACE Group Classic Preview
From The Sports Network

DATES: Friday, February 12th through Sunday, February 14th
SITE: The Golf Lodge at the Quarry, Naples, Florida
COURSE ARCHITECT: Dr. Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry (2007)
PAR: 72
YARDAGE: 7,094
Hole-By-Hole:1 - Par 4 341 Yds10 - Par 4 422 Yds
2 - Par 3 210 Yds11 - Par 4 423 Yds
3 - Par 5 556 Yds12 - Par 5 532 Yds
4 - Par 4 445 Yds13 - Par 3 194 Yds
5 - Par 4 431 Yds14 - Par 5 555 Yds
6 - Par 3 178 Yds15 - Par 3 205 Yds
7 - Par 5 542 Yds16 - Par 4 379 Yds
8 - Par 4 407 Yds17 - Par 4 436 Yds
9 - Par 4 382 Yds18 - Par 4 456 Yds
--------------------------
36 3,492 Yds36 3,602 Yds
 
Annual:  23rd
Television:  Golf Channel - Friday -- 12:30-2:30 p.m. (et),
  - Saturday -- 6:30-9:30 p.m. (et) - taped
  - Sunday -- 7-9:30 p.m. (et) - taped
  - Saturday/Monday -- 12-2 a.m. (et) - replay
Defending Champion:  Loren Roberts
Runner-Up:  Gene Jones
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
 
2009 Finish
PlayerScorePlayerScore
Loren Roberts209Don Pooley211
Gene Jones210Brad Bryant213
Ben Crenshaw211Mike Goodes213
Bernhard Langer211Nick Price213
James Mason211Joey Sindelar213
 
Past ACE Group Classic Winners
YearWinner (Score) -- Runners-Up
2009Loren Roberts (209) -- Gene Jones
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
Player2000200120022003200420052006200720082009
Loren Roberts------------------WonT-5T-6Won
Gene Jones------------------------T-82nd
Don Pooley------T-12---T-7T-12T-6T-9T-35T-3
Ben Crenshaw------T-43T-44T-59T-49---T-29T-53T-3
Bernhard Langer---------------------------T-3
Nick Price---------------------T-275thT-7
Mike Goodes------------------------T-35T-7
Joey Sindelar---------------------------T-7
Jeff Sluman------------------------T-6T-11
Bruce FleisherT-18T-8T-22T-24T-35T-12T-56T-11T-25T-11
Wayne Levi---------wd6th7thT-49T-16T-30T-11
Scott Hoch---------------------T-11WonT-19
Tom Kite---4thT-53T-7T-15---T-11T-23T-2T-19
Tom JenkinsT-18T-34T-9T-7T-30T-8T-664thT-2T-19
Fulton Allem---------------------------T-24
Fred Funk---------------------------T-24
Andy Bean------------T-63T-57---T-7T-25T-24
Bobby Wadkins------T-12---T-10T-32T-24WonT-16T-29
Jay Haas---------------------T-16---T-29
Mark McNulty---------------T-36T-11---T-35T-43
Keith Fergus---------------T-41T-14T-36T-16T-47
Gil MorganT-36Won11thT-4T-4T-22T-24T-11T-21T-47
Tom Purtzer------T-12T-4T-30T-19T-62T-36T-35T-47
Allen Doyle5thT-5T-5T-28T-30T-49T-292ndT-30T-53
Bruce Lietzke------T-12T-14---T-8T-41T-29T-35T-53
John Cook------------------------T-35T-53
Lanny WadkinsWonT-43T-62------72nd------T-72T-53
Morris Hatalsky---------T-17T-7T-8T-24T-29T-27T-62
Hale Irwin------WonT-714thT-2T-4T-36T-43T-62
Dana QuigleyT-62ndT-5T-49T-47T-19T-14T-23T-4371st
Craig Stadler------------WonT-36------T-30---
Mark James---------------WonT-69T-19T-53---
Phil Blackmar------------------------------
Fred Couples------------------------------
Sports Network Selections

Pick to Win - Fred Couples
Darkhorse - Hale Irwin
 
Last Week's Pick to Win (Tom Lehman) - Finished 4th
Last Week's Darkhorse (Phil Blackmar) - Finished tied for 6th
 
NOTES:
The Champions Tour travels to Florida this week for The ACE Group Classic in Naples. Tom Watson captured the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai three weeks ago. Watson is not in the field this week. Fred Couples finished second to Watson in his first Champions Tour event and will look to win his first title this week. He finished tied for 37th at the Northern Trust Open on the PGA Tour last week.

Eleven former champions of the tournament are playing this week. Defending champion Loren Roberts, who also won in 2006, will be joined by Scott Hoch (2008), Bobby Wadkins (2007), Mark James (2005), Craig Stadler (2004), Hale Irwin (1997, 2002), Gil Morgan (1998, 2001), Lanny Wadkins (2000), Allen Doyle (1999), Lee Trevino (1990-91) and Gary Player (1988).

Last year, Roberts birdied the 18th hole in the final round to come from behind and win this event for the second time. Roberts shot a four-under 68 to finish 54 holes at seven-under 209 and won by a single stroke over second- round leader Gene Jones, who managed his third consecutive two-under 70 on Sunday.

In 2008, for the second straight week, 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 this event. 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.

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' win 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 Quarry for the first time this year. The course was designed by Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry and opened for play in 2007. The Quarry is the ninth 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. The TPC Treviso Bay hosted the tournament in 2009.

There have been three playoffs in event history. The first was in 2000, when Lanny Wadkins defeated Jose Maria Canizares, Walter Hall and Watson. The second was in 2004, when Craig Stadler knocked off Gary Koch and Watson. The last was in 2008 when Hoch defeated Kite, Bryant and Jenkins. Twelve of the previous 22 tournaments in Naples have been decided by either a playoff or a single stroke.

Just two players have posted wire-to-wire victories at this event -- Trevino (1990) and Doyle (1999). Gene Littler (1989), Mike Hill (1993) and Bob 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 Wadkins (2000) were rookies when they triumphed. Five players have won this event twice: Trevino (1990-91), Mike Hill (1993-94), Irwin (1997, 2002), Morgan (1998, 2001) and Roberts (2006, 2009). Irwin is the all-time money leader at this event with $748,947 in earnings. When Wadkins won in 2000, he became just the ninth of 15 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. Wadkins is the youngest winner of this event, winning at Pelican Marsh in 2000 at 50 years, two months and eight days.

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

The Champions Tour remains in the Sunshine State next week for the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, where Mike Goodes captured the 2009 event.

02/09 14:05:01 ET

As of February 9, 2010, at 02:05 PM ET

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