Jack Comes Up Aces

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The Champions Tour heads west across Florida's Alligator Alley to Naples, Fla., for the 17th edition of The ACE Group Classic.
 
Played for the second time at The Club at TwinEagles, the field is loaded with big names as reigning player of the year Tom Watson, PGA Tour and Champions Tour star Craig Stadler, Fuzzy Zoeller, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite and Jack Nicklaus all will be on hand to tee it up.
 
For Nicklaus, his appearance at the course he co-designed with his son Jack II, comes as somewhat of a surprise. Health problems have limited his schedule in the past several years, with his 63-year-old back being the main culprit.
 
However, after his fine showing at the MasterCard Championship in Hawaii, in which he shot a final-round 66 to tie for 11th, Nicklaus declared himself fit and has decided to add to his schedule.
 
'I'm feeling better,' Nicklaus said. 'I'm not good yet. I am greatly, greatly improved, and that's allowed me to play.'
 
Stadler, meanwhile, is coming off yet another strong performance on the regular tour, finishing in a tie for 35th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, despite a final-round 76. Stadler 's $25,572 paycheck vaulted him to 66th in earnings on the PGA Tour. His only appearance in a Champions Tour event in 2004 resulted in a tie for third at the above mentioned season-opening MasterCard Championship.
 
Last year's champion Vicente Fernandez returns to defend the crown he won in fine fashion in 2003. The 56-year-old from Argentina sank a monster 61-foot birdie putt on the last hole to finish the three day event in 14-under-par, three shots better than Tom Watson and Des Smyth.
 
Former European Ryder Cup captains Sam Torrance and Mark James are again in the field as they try to make their first dent on the senior circuit.
 
The purse is $1,600,000 with a first-place check of $240,000.
 
The Golf Channel will carry exclusive, three-round coverage of The ACE Group Classic. Coverage will begin at 1:30 PM ET Friday-Sunday with a special primetime encore at 9:00 PM ET.
 
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - The ACE Group Classic

  • TGC Airtimes