Round 1 notebook: ACE Group Classic

February 15, 2013

By Phil Stambaugh, Champions Tour staff

For the second straight year, 10-under 62 is the leading score after the first round of the ACE Group Classic and for the second straight week, Bernhard Langer’s name is at the top of the Friday leaderboard. Langer, a co-leader after the first round of the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton last week, matched his career-best round on the Champions Tour on Friday and equaled Larry Mize’s score at TwinEagles in 2011. Langer carded eight birdies and an eagle on the day to take a three-stroke lead over Bob Tway. He started his day with four straight pars, but he played his next 12 holes in 10 under before making routine pars on the final two holes. Gary Koch also posted 10-under 62 in the first round of the 2004 event at TwinEagles.

• In addition to Friday's 62, Langer shot 62 in the opening round of the 2007 Administaff Small Business Classic and went on to win that event in Houston. He closed with 62 last year at the 3M Championship and bested David Peoples for the victory at the TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota. 

• Langer’s 62 was his eighth straight score in the 60s on the Champions Tour dating back to the final round of last year’s season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship. Langer’s round Friday was also his ninth consecutive sub-par round in Naples and beat his previous career-best score in Naples by two strokes (64/Rd. 1/2011).

• Langer’s three-stroke advantage after the first round is the biggest margin since Dale Douglass led by a record four strokes after Friday play in 1991. It’s also the biggest first-round lead on the Champions Tour since Mark Calcavecchia was three ahead after the first round of the AT&T Championship in San Antonio last fall.  

• Tom Pernice Jr., a T2 last week at the Allianz Championship, made five straight birdies (Nos. 2-6), equaling the best birdie streak thus far on the 2013 Champions Tour en route to a 6-under 66. He shot 66 in the first round last week in Boca Raton and went on to finish T2, two strokes back of Rocco Mediate at the Allianz Championship. Because of his fully-exempt status on the 2012 PGA TOUR, Pernice only made 10 starts on the Champions Tour last year and none before late March at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic (T3).

• Bob Tway’s run of an eagle and four straight birdies on the front nine (Nos. 3-7) matched the best birdie-eagle streak this year and led to a 7-under 65, his best round on the Champions Tour since he posted a 65 on Saturday at last year’s 3M Championship. It was Tway’s best starting round in a Champions Tour event since he opened with 63 on Friday at the 2011 Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn.  

• Eight of the previous 25 ACE Group Classic tournaments have been won by first-round leaders/co-leaders. Langer was the last player to do it in 2011 at The Quarry. He was tied for the first-round lead that year with Russ Cochran and went on to win the ACE event by four strokes over Fred Funk. In his Champions Tour career, Langer has been a first-round leader/co-leader 12 times and gone on to win five from this position, most recently at the 2011 ACE Group Classic.

• Defending champion Kenny Perry opened with 4-under 68 (T10) while Gil Morgan, a two-time winner of the ACE Group Classic (1998/2001), recorded a 68 as well, his best opening round at this event since 2007 and his 19th career round in the 60s in Naples.

• Scott Hoch made his first start on the Champions Tour since the 2011 AT&T Championship and birdied the first hole to open up his round of 1-over 73.

• Loren Roberts has still never had a score above par in Naples and his 4-under 68 today extended his streak to 22 straight scores. It was Roberts' 14th round in the 60s. Roberts won the ACE Group Classic in 2006 and 2009.

• Rocco Mediate, last week’s winner in Boca Raton, struggled in his first career start in Naples, shooting even-par 72 (T46) ... Current Charles Schwab Cup leader John Cook shot 1-under 71 (T32).

• With lift, clean and place conditions in effect as well as soft greens and no wind, there were 24 rounds in the 60s and 45 scores under par. Last year at TwinEagles on Friday there were 27 scores in the 60s and 47 rounds under par. Today’s field scoring average was 71.087 compared to 70.962 after the first round last year. There were seven eagles and 303 birdies made in the first round this year compared to 183 birdies and 11 eagles by the field in Round 1 last year.

• Andy Bean withdrew from the tournament while playing his 12th hole today due to a hip injury.

• In addition to Bernhard Langer, Chien Soon Lu, Fred Funk, Mark O’Meara, Roger Chapman and Jeff Freeman all had bogey-free rounds.