Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Preparing for the ACE Group Classic-2015
It’s a little overcast here in Naples, Florida, this morning. Corey Pavin has half a dozen golf balls on the putting green, and is trying to coax them to go into the cup. A light shower begins to turn into a serious downpour, and Pavin takes refuge under an umbrella.
For the most part, the putting area and the driving range are deserted. Most of the competitors on the Champions Tour played yesterday in Boca Raton, and will arrive this evening or tomorrow. They will play in the ACE Group Classic at the Twin Eagles Club in Naples. Last year, Kirk Triplett won the event.
Kirk Triplett, 2014 ACE Group Classic Champion
Paul Goydos won the Allianz Tournament yesterday in Boca Raton. His birdie on the final hole gave him a one stroke victory over Gene Sauers. He picked up $ 255 000 for his efforts, while Sauers had to settle for $ 149 600. Top Canadian in the event was Rod Spittle. He earned $ 45 900, finishing four strokes off the pace.
Al Stitt, current Bay of Quinte Champion with Rod Spittle
Spittle was tied for the lead going into the final round. He had posted scores of 66 and 69. He started the final round with a bogey, then he birdied the second. He pared the third, then birdied the fourth and fifth. As he began the sixth hole, he led the field by two strokes. To say that disaster struck at that time would be an understatement.
As recorded on the Champions Tour web site, it went something like this: 1. Tee shot. 2. Primary rough. 3. Fairway. 4. Primary rough. 5. Penalty. Drop. 6. Primary rough. 7. Penalty. Drop. 8. Shot onto green. 9. Putt 10. Putt. At that point, most of my clubs would end up in the lake. But the big guy regrouped, and played well the rest of the round. Truly amazing.
Spittle, with two Canadian fans.
Spittle hails from Chippewa, but is always announced as the guy from St. Catharines. He stands at more than 6’ 5”, drives well and leads the entire tour in recoveries from the sand. He is truly a gentle giant. Last year, he signed a ball for a kid at the end of the final round. The lad’s brother then asked for his golf glove. Without batting an eye, Spittle removed the glove and asked the kid if he wanted it signed. He is always most accommodating to the fans. And a huge Bobby Orr fan too!
I ran into Jose Coceres in the clubhouse. He started the final round on Sunday nine shots back in 45th place. He played his first 16 holes at ten under par, tying Goydos for the lead. He bogeyed the 17th, ending up with a 63 for the day.
Bernard Langer, after a fine round. (Obviously!)
Kirk Triplett will tee off on Thursday, as will Bernard Langer, who won in 2011 and 2013. Kenny Perry was the winner in 2012. You will also likely see other legendary golfers in action: Tom Watson, Colin Montgomerie, Tom Kite, Hale Irwin, Nick Price, Fuzzy Zoeller, Mark O’Meara, Larry Nelson, and Fred Couples, to name just a few.
It is remarkable that there are relatively few fans accompanying the players around the course. You can spend a most enjoyable day in the sunshine, under clear blue skies, watching your favourite player. In February! So I ask, “What’s keeping you?”
February 9, 2015