NAPLES, Fla.(AP) Defending champion Loren Roberts has no problems with The ACE Group Classic’s move to Quail West after five years at TwinEagles.
“I’m excited about it,” said Roberts, who became the first Champions Tour player to open a season with three straight wins last year with his victory at TwinEagles. “I like (the move) because nobody has an advantage. Nobody’s seen it, really.”
Not even Scott Hoch, who lives at Quail West.
Hoch, who turned 50 late last year and played in a couple of tournaments after he recovered from left hand surgery, had only played nine holes at Quail West before this week.
“I played the other nine yesterday just so I could get balanced,” Hoch joked.
This is the 20th year for the event, one of the longest runs on the Champions Tour.
Gary Player won the inaugural event in 1988, and such top players as Lee Trevino (1990-91), Hale Irwin (1997, 2002), Gil Morgan (1998, 2001), Allen Doyle (1999), Lanny Wadkins (2000), Craig Stadler (2004) and Roberts (2006) are past champions. Eight of the 15 previous winners are playing this week.
When Dale Douglass tees off Friday, he’ll become the only golfer to play in all 20 events.
Player has competed in all but last year’s. Unlike Player, Douglass hasn’t won in Naples, although he has come close. Morgan chipped in from 30 yards for eagle to beat him in 1998, and he finished second to Trevino in 1991.
“I had a couple of chances to win,” Douglass said. “Having the opportunity to win is good, but winning is better.”
Rookies Mark O’Meara and Nick Price are playing their second and third tournaments on the tour, respectively. Both turned 50 last month. O’Meara shot a final-round 82 last week in Tampa and tied for 38th. Price tied for 20th in Boca Raton two weeks ago, and tied for 17th last week.
The field assembled this week is strong as usual, but last week’s winner, Tom Watson, isn’t playing because of a scheduling conflict.
The winner will receive $240,000 from the $1.6 million purse.