NAPLES, Fla. (AP) — Scott Hoch was still celebrating his victory last week in Bacon Raton as he prepared for The ACE Group Classic.
“You don’t know when you’re going to win, or if you’re going to win again,” Hoch said Thursday, a day before the start of play at Quail West. “It’s always great to win. I savor every one.”
The 11-time PGA Tour winner won the Allianz Championship on Sunday for his second career victory on the 50-and-over tour, birdieing five of the last eight holes to edge Brad Bryant and Bruce Lietzke by a stroke.
“I didn’t really realize what I had done,” said Hoch, who has a residence at Quail West but has barely played the course besides last year.
“The last few holes are very tough. Jerry Pate said, ‘Man, that’s great playing to birdie five out of the last eight holes.’ I hadn’t realized that.”
It was an emotional win for Hoch. Caddie Greg Rita is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor diagnosed late last year, and former caddie Damon Green was on the bag for the tournament. Steve Kay is Hoch’s caddie this week, while Green goes back to his player on the PGA Tour – 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson.
Last year, Bobby Wadkins overcame a two-stroke deficit with three holes to play to win, making a 13-foot birdie putt to beat 1999 winner Allen Doyle by a stroke. Wadkins’ older brother, Lanny, won the tournament in 2000. That made them the third set of brothers to win the same Champions Tour event.
Lee Trevino, a winner of multiple major championships and two Naples tournaments, is playing for the second time this year. The 68-year-old star said he only plans on playing seven or eight events this season.
“I can’t play in the summer,” Trevino said. “My son plays lacrosse and travels over the summer, so I go with him.”
Loren Roberts will be trying for his second ACE victory in three years. When Roberts won in 2006, it was a record third straight to open a Champions Tour season.
“I think the golf course is in fabulous shape, the best shape of any golf course I’ve seen down here,” Roberts said. “I think it’s going to equate to some lower scores.”