Last Week's Pick to Win (Bernhard Langer) - Finished tied for 2nd
Last Week's Darkhorse (Kirk Triplett) - Finished tied for 13th
The Champions Tour remains in Florida this week for the ACE Group Classic in
Naples. Seven former champions of the tournament are playing - Kenny
Perry (2012), Bernhard Langer (2011), Loren Roberts, (2006, 2009), Scott
Hoch (2008), Craig Stadler (2004), Hale Irwin (1997, 2002), and Allen Doyle
(1999). The tournament will be played at the Talon Course at the Club at
TwinEagles for the second straight year.
John Cook captured the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship in
Hawaii in January and Rocco Mediate claimed his first Champions Tour title in
his debut on the tour last week at the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton,
This year's tournament marks the 26th anniversary of a Champions Tour event in
Naples. On the current schedule, only the AT&T Championship in San Antonio,
Texas, has been played longer in the same city (28 years).
Last year, Perry fired rounds of 64-62-70 to complete a dominating, 5-shot
victory. Perry finished at 20-under-par 196, tying the tournament record set
by Langer in 2011. He earned the second Champions Tour victory of his career,
with the first coming at the 2011 SAS Championship. Perry's 36-hole total of
126 established the all-time lowest score in relation to par for the first two
rounds in Champions Tour history.
Langer posted rounds of 64-66-66 to easily cruise to his only Champions Tour
title of the year in 2011. Langer finished at 20-under 196 and established a
new tournament record, topping Jimmy Powell's mark of 197 from 1992. Langer
won by four strokes over Fred Funk at The Quarry.
In 2010, Fred Couples earned his first Champions Tour title in only his second
official start. Couples posted an 8-under 64 in the final round to finish at
17-under 199 and won only by a single stroke. Tommy Armour III, who was making
his Champions Tour debut, established a new course record with a scorching,
11-under 61 in the final round. Armour came in at 16-under 200. Armour's
final-round, 11-under-par 61 matched the Champions Tour record for lowest
score in relation to par. For Couples, it was his first win since the 2003
Houston Open on the PGA Tour.
For the second straight week, Scott Hoch birdied the final two holes of the
tournament in 2008 on his way to winning. Hoch birdied the first playoff hole
to defeat Tom Kite, Brad Bryant and Tom Jenkins. 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. 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).
Roberts shot rounds of 67-66-69 to win by one stroke over Brad Bryant and R.W.
Eaks in 2006. He finished 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.
Just two players have posted wire-to-wire victories -- Lee Trevino (1990) and
Doyle (1999). Gene Littler (1989), Mike Hill (1993), Bob Murphy (1995),
Couples (2010) and Langer (2011) all led from start to finish, but shared the
top spot at one point in their march to the title.
Doyle (1999), Lanny Wadkins (2000) and Couples (2010) won their first
Champions Tour titles in Naples, while Littler (1989) and Al Geiberger (1996)
claimed their last events here. Trevino (1990), Lanny Wadkins (2000) and
Couples (2010) were rookies when they triumphed. Five players have won this
event twice - Trevino (1990-91), Mike Hill (1993-94), Irwin (1997, 2002), Gil
Morgan (1998, 2001) and Roberts (2006, 2009).
Littler is the oldest winner, triumphing in the 1989 tournament at 58 years,
seven months and five days. Lanny Wadkins is the youngest, winning at Pelican
Marsh in 2000 at 50 years, two months and eight days.
The winner has come out of the final grouping in each of the last 12 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 travels to California in four weeks for the Toshiba Classic
in Newport Beach, where Roberts captured the title in 2012.
02/12 16:06:36 ET