Friday, February 15, 2013


ACE Group Classic-Naples 2013

The rains stayed well away from South West Florida until yesterday. Almost three inches drenched many areas, including the Talon Course of the TwinEagles Golf Course in Naples. The course is the site of the ACE Group Classic Golf Tournament, with $ 1 600 000 up for grabs. The winner’s share is $ 240 000. The tournament is for those graying slightly at the temples, those over 50 years of age, and is a stop on the Champions Tour.

Following today’s play to open the tournament, Bernhard Langer emerged at the top of the pack. Par for the course is 72, and he ended the day ten under par, and flirted with that magical score of 59. “I missed the putt on the 17th for a bird. I knew I had to finish eagle-birdie to get 59.”

Langer is enjoying the tour immensely. He said that he did not make any significant adjustments for the weather, slightly chilly for the season. “I called my wife and asked her to bring me a sweater. It arrived when I was on the tenth hole. But it is her birthday, so that was that.” During the evening telecast on the Golf Channel, Langer sang “Happy Birthday” to his wife. I recommend that he stick with his day job.

“I love the camaraderie with the other players and their families with this tour. I know that I only have so many years left (to play the game at this level).” His son sat in on the media scrum. After he left the microphone, he chuckled and asked his son, perhaps 12 years old, “Why didn’t you ask any questions?” There is an element of levity at the event, far less strenuous than the regular PGA Tour events. Mind you, there is plenty at stake, and players need their “A Game” to succeed.

Canadians Rod Spittle and Jim Nelford failed to qualify, and likely moved on to prepare for next week’s event. Victoria’s Jim Rutledge remains as the only Canadian in the event, and posted a respectable one under par in the opening round.

                                                 Jim Rutledge, heading to the 18th tee.

Langer heads into tomorrow’s event with a three shot lead. When asked if that is enough, he replied, “It might be if there were two holes remaining!”

The sun broke through the clouds after play was completed. A significant change in the weather is expected. Langer shrugged when asked about it. All players will play the same course, in the same conditions. I am certain Langer will be ready.            

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