Nine of the top 10, and 28 of the top 30 players on last year's money list are in the final field for next week's ACE Group Classic.
The field for the 26th edition of the Champions Tour event was announced Friday evening.
Newcomers include Naples homeowner and Calusa Pines Golf Club member Rocco Mediate, Steve Elkington, Bart Bryant, Duffy Waldorf and Gene Sauers. Mediate is one of four Calusa Pines members playing. John Harris, Loren Roberts and Jeff Sluman are the others. Bonita Springs resident Peter Jacobsen, Tiburon resident Wayne Levi, part-time Naples resident Scott Hoch and Naples National Golf Club member Fuzzy Zoeller also have local ties.
"This year's field is really one of the strongest we've had to date," tournament director Lesley Baker said. "The Talon Course at TwinEagles has been a great course for low scores — defending champion Kenny Perry set a Champion Tour record here last year — but apart from the great golf fans will see, we've added some great tournament experiences for them to enjoy as well."
2010 champion Fred Couples once again chose to play in the PGA Tour's Northern Trust Open at Riviera, one of his favorite courses. So did Corey Pavin. Those are the two from last year's top 30 on the money list who aren't playing. Couples hasn't played in Naples since winning The ACE Group Classic at The Quarry.
Defending champion Kenny Perry, Bernhard Langer (2011), Roberts (2006, 2009), Hoch (2008), Craig Stadler (2004), Hale Irwin (1997, 2002), Gil Morgan (1998, 2001) and Allen Doyle (1999) are former champions in the field.
2012 Champions Tour Player of the Year Tom Lehman, who was runner-up to Perry last year, also is playing, as are 2013 Mitsubishi Electric Championship winner John Cook, Mark Calcavecchia and Mark O'Meara. A total of 19 major champion winners are playing.
The course is closed to the public Monday. On Tuesday, the PGA Tour Superstore will celebrate Play Golf America Day at the Golf-A-Palooza from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at TwinEagles. The latest equipment debuts from Tour Edge, Mizuno, Adams, Nike, Bridgestone, Cleveland, Cobra and Callaway will all be on display with on-site club fitting and demos.
Golf clinics will begin at 11 a.m. with Dr. Jim Suttie, followed by Jacobsen at 2 p.m., and a trick-shot exhibition by Divot the Clown at 3:30 p.m. Suttie writes a tips column twice a month for the Daily News.
Also beginning on Tuesday, fans can participate in the NCH Healthcare System My Miles for NCH Challenge and the Subway Family Putt for Dough.
Select groups made up of Champions Tour pros and caddies, tournament volunteers, TwinEagles and NCH Healthcare System representatives and The ACE Group Classic staff will compete with fans each day in the challenge which will culminate in a $10,000 donation to the NCH Healthcare Foundation.
The Subway Family Putt for Dough is a free, 3-hole putting challenge that gives spectators a chance to test their skills for the opportunity to win the grand prize of $50,000.
For more information, including a complete schedule, visit www.acegroupclassic.com.
Daily tickets (valid any one day Tuesday — Sunday) for $25, as well as individual weeklong grounds passes (valid Tuesday — Sunday) for $50 are available for purchase.
Children 17 and under are admitted free all week with a ticketed adult. All ticket options and parking passes are available online at www.acegroupclassic.com or by calling (239) 593-3900.
Tommy Armour III
Jay Don Blake
Jim Gallagher Jr.
Chien Soon Lu
Tom Pernice Jr.