Round 1 Notebook: ACE Group Classic

February 17, 2012
Phil Stambaugh, Champions Tour staff

Weather: Sunny with highs in the low-80s and winds from the SW in the afternoon at 5-10 mph.

Larry Mize hit all 18 greens in regulation and his eagle-birdie finish gave him a 10-under 62 in the opening round of the 2012 ACE Group Classic, good enough for a two-stroke lead over Russ Cochran, Tom Lehman and Kenny Perry. Mize's bogey-free round matched his career-low score which ironically was posted on Friday 27 years ago at Riviera, the site for this week's Northern Trust Open on the PGA TOUR. Mize's previous-best on the Champions Tour was 64 twice, most recently at the 2010 Montreal Championship which led to his only victory to date on the circuit.


Round 1 Leaderboard: 1) Larry Mize/62 (-10); T2) Russ Cochran/64 (-8), Tom Lehman/64 (-8) & Kenny Perry/64 (-8); 5) Mike Goodes/65 (-7); T6) Michael Allen/66 (-6), Jay Haas/66 (-6) & Bernhard Langer/66 (-6)

Larry Mize's 62 today was the lowest first-round score on the Champions Tour since Nick Price opened with 11-under 60 at Newport Beach CC in last year's Toshiba Classic. Price went on to win the event. Mize's score also matched the lowest first-round score in tournament history. Gary Koch had 62 on the Talon Course in the opening round of the 2004 ACE Group Classic.

• Today marks the first time that Larry Mize has been a first-round leader on the Champions Tour. He led or shared the first-round lead nine times on the PGA TOUR but went on to win only once -- 1993 Buick Open. Last week, Corey Pavin opened with 64 at the Allianz Championship and went on to win in a playoff.

• They don't call it The TwinEagles Club for nothing! Mark McNulty made consecutive eagles on Nos. 13 & 14, a first on the Champions Tour since Fred Couples made back-to-back eagles in the final round of the 2010 Senior PGA Championship at Colorado Golf Club near Denver. McNulty hit a 4-wood second shot to within eight feet of the hole at the par-5 13th and made the putt. On the 441-yard, par-4 14th, McNulty's 6-iron shot from 164 yards found the cup. It marked the first time McNulty had consecutive eagles in his professional career.

Loren Roberts, a two-time ACE Group Classic champion and the last player to win at TwinEagles in 2006, ran his streak of par/better rounds in Naples to 19 straight with a 1-under 71 today.

• After 36 players broke par at The Quarry in the opening round of last year's ACE Group Classic, there were a whopping 47 rounds under par on Friday at TwinEagles, including 27 scores in the 60s. The stroke average for the field today was 70.962 compared to 71.802 at The Quarry on Friday last year. It was also the lowest first-round scoring average at TwinEagles since 2004 (70.727). Overall, there were 11 eagles and 327 birdies made today compared to four eagles and 117 birdies in Round 1 at The Quarry last year.

• In addition to Larry Mize, Russ Cochran (-8), Mike Goodes (-7), Jim Carter (-4) and Jim Gallagher, Jr. (-3) all had bogey-free rounds today.

• Defending champion Bernhard Langer shot 6-under 66 today, his sixth straight sub-70 score in Naples. He's now a cumulative 35-under-par over the six rounds. Lee Trevino (1990-1991) and Mike Hill (1993-1994) are the only two players to defend titles at the ACE Group Classic.

Tom Lehman registered 10 birdies today, the most by a player in the field. Lehman's run of five consecutive birdies (Nos. 13-17) established the best birdie streak on the 2012 Champions Tour.

Kenny Perry's 8-under 64 today was his best round on the Champions Tour since posting 10-under 62 on the final day of the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn last year. The last time Perry had 64 or better in the opening round of a TOUR-sponsored event came when he tied his career-low score, shooting 61 in Round 1 of the 2009 Travelers Championship on the PGA TOUR.

Michael Allen (66), Jay Don Blake (68), John Cook (69) and Jay Haas (66) have now started the 2012 Champions Tour campaign with seven consecutive sub-par rounds.

Andy Bean withdrew after two holes on Friday due to a pulled groin. Jay Sigel withdrew after nine holes with a left thumb injury.