2013 ACE Group Classic
(the third of 26 official events on the 2013 Champions Tour)
The TwinEagles Club (Talon)
February 15-17, 2013
Charles Schwab Cup points: 240
Weather: Partly cloudy with temperatures near 70 degrees. A front moved through the area during the afternoon and winds were from the WNW at 10-20 mph with higher gusts.
Bernhard Langer 62-70—132 (-12)
Chien Soon Lu 67-68—135 (-9)
Tom Pernice, Jr. 66-69—135 (-9)
Mark O’Meara 67-69—136 (-8)
Jay Don Blake 66-71—137 (-7)
John Huston 66-71—137 (-7)
Mark Wiebe 67-70—137 (-7)
Bernhard Langer’s bogey-free 70 in blustery conditions was good enough to maintain a three-stroke lead over Chien Soon Lu and Tom Pernice, Jr. after 36 holes at the ACE Group Classic. After making eight birdies and an eagle on Friday, Langer birdied his opening hole in Round 2 and then did not make his other birdie until he holed an eight-foot putt at the par-4 14th. Lu started with a double-bogey after a wayward drive but then reeled off seven birdies over his next 10 holes to close to within one stroke of Langer. Lu finished his round with a bogey after his second shot found the water right of the 18thgreen. Pernice made a pair of birdies over his final six holes to tie Lu for second place after two rounds.
Bernhard Langer’s 70 snapped his string of rounds in the 60s at eight straight dating back to the final round of last year’s season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship. However, his score of 2-under 70 was his 10th consecutive sub-par round in Naples.
For the second straight year, the 36-hole leader at the ACE Group Classic enjoys a three-stroke cushion. A year ago, Kenny Perry set a tournament record of 18-under 126 and was three in front of Larry Mize. When Bernhard Langer won at The Quarry two years ago, he enjoyed a four-stroke lead after two rounds.
Bernhard Langer goes for his 17thcareer victory on the Champions Tour tomorrow and attempts to become just the sixth player to win the ACE Group Classic twice – Lee Trevino (1990-91), Mike Hill (1993-94), Hale Irwin (1997, 2002), Gil Morgan (1998, 2001), Loren Roberts (2006, 2009). He’s won two other Champions Tour events multiple times. Last year, Langer claimed a second 3M Championship (2009, 2012) and he’s also won a pair of Insperity Championships (2007, 2008).
Bernhard Langer is also trying to become just the third player to win in wire-to-wire fashion – Lee Trevino (1990) and Allen Doyle (1999). He’s also shooting to win at least one event on the Champions Tour for a seventh straight year.
Bernhard Langer is the only player in the field who has not made a bogey in the tournament and he’s made just two bogeys over his last 105 holes. Over that stretch, Langer has made an eagle and 36 birdies.
Bernhard Langer has been a co-leader or leader going into Sunday at 10 events that were either 54 or 72 holes on the Champions Tour and he’s won eight times from that position. The last time he was in this position on the Champions Tour was at the ACE Group Classic in 2011 when he enjoyed a four-stroke advantage after two rounds.
A player has come from behind to win the ACE Group Classic 12 times, including six of the last 11 years. 13 of the previous 25 events in Naples have been decided by either a playoff or just one stroke.
The winner of The ACE Group Classic has come out of the final grouping in each of the last 12 years. The last time it didn’t happen in Naples was 2000 when Lanny Wadkins fired a final-round 64 to rally from three strokes back to force a playoff that he eventually won.
Tomorrow’s winner will earn 240 Charles Schwab Cup points. Bernhard Langer, the tournament leader, would move into the 2013 Schwab Cup lead should he go on to win tomorrow. John Cook, the current Schwab Cup leader, carded a 68 today and moved up 21 spots into a T11. Points are only awarded at each event for top-10 finishes and at the conclusion of the season, the player earning the most Schwab Cup points will receive a $1 million payout.
Two-time ACE Group Classic champion Loren Roberts saw his streak of par/better rounds in Naples snapped at 22 straight after he posted a 4-over 76 today.
Rookies Rocco Mediate and Gene Sauers posted the low rounds of the day, carding 5-under 67s. Mediate, the winner last week at the Allianz Championship, vaulted 35 spots into a T11 with his round while Sauers jumped 24 places into a T8 thanks to birdies on four of his final five holes.
Defending champion Kenny Perry struggled with a 73 on Saturday and finds himself in a T17 after 36 holes. On Tuesday next week in Nashville, Perry will undergo left knee surgery for a torn meniscus and will be out of action for approximately six weeks. He hopes to return to action on the Champions Tour at the inaugural Greater Gwinnett Championship near Atlanta in mid-April.
In his second round on the Champions Tour after missing more than a year with hand and wrist problems, Scott Hoch shot a bogey-free 68 and jumped up 38 places into a T17. It was the biggest move by a player in the field and Hoch’s first bogey-free round since he shot 70 without a blemish in the first round of the 2011 Songdo IBD Championship in South Korea.
With gusting winds of up to 25 mph, today’s field scoring average was 73.300 compared to 71.087 on Friday. There were only 10 scores in the 60s on Saturday compared to 24 sub-70 rounds yesterday. Overall, there were just three eagles made today, all on the 6th hole, and 219 birdies compared to seven eagles and 303 total birdies yesterday. Steve Jones made the only birdie at the par-3 12th hole and it ranked as the second most difficult (3.350) hole. The par-4 7th hole ranked as the most difficult (4.413). Through two rounds, Chien Soon Lu leads the field with 12 total birdies.
Champions Tour pros, caddies, volunteers, spectators and staff accepted a friendly challenge to track the miles walked during the week of The ACE Group Classic. Tomorrow, the NCH Healthcare System Foundation will receive a $10,000 donation from The ACE Group Classic as a result. On Saturday, better weather brought out the Naples community in full force and the spectators seized the My Miles Fore NCH lead after logging 39.74 total miles with their pedometers. The Champions Tour players, represented today by Larry Mize (6.38 mi) and Tom Pernice Jr. (4.83), recorded 11.2 miles between themselves moving the overall player’s total to over 80 miles walked since the competition began on Tuesday. Full results are available on www.ACEGroupClassic.com.