There was light rain most of the morning, and one brief period of heavy rain, but other than that, Mother Nature was kind to the golfers at The ACE Group Classic on Friday at TwinEagles Club. The afternoon portion of Thursday's pro-am was canceled about halfway through because of rain. More than two inches fell Thursday.
"We got somewhat fortunate on the weather," said Tom Pernice Jr., who is tied for third after a 66. "The wind never did pick up and we had a few intermittent showers on the front nine, but nothing too bad, so that really was nice."
Golfers played lift, clean and place, so the combination of that and the soft greens led to some low scores. There were 24 rounds in the 60s, and 45 scores under par. But those numbers weren't markedly different from last year, when there were 27 in the 60s and 47 rounds under par.
" It was rainy. The golf course wasn't that difficult because it drains beautifully," said Calusa Pines Golf Club member John Harris, who was in the first group and shot a 69. "I can't complain. It's the same course for everyone."
Still, the players in the early tee times had to deal with rain almost their entire round, and the one brief heavy downpour.
"It's just a nuisance," said Bob Tway, who's in second, three behind Bernhard Langer. "It's a nuisance for your caddie, it's a nuisance for you trying to keep everything dry. It's just no fun to play in rain."
" There was a lot of rain," Tiburon resident Wayne Levi said. "It gets annoying putting rain gear on and taking it off over and over. The umbrella starts getting heavy and I know my arms will be sore tomorrow. It's just a nuisance playing in the rain."
The forecast is for clearing today, with winds from 15 to 20 mph. Temperatures will drop into the low 60s for a high Sunday, with strong winds again.
Brotherly love: The Bryant brother reunion is in its second week.
Brad Bryant opened with a 70, two strokes better than his younger sibling Bart.
Last week, Bart made his Champions Tour debut at the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton and was paired with big brother in the first round.
"They say it's random, but I have a feeling the computer was manipulated to put us together. I don't know that for a fact, but it was kind of nice to start that way," said Brad, who finished tied for 52nd, 19 spots behind Bart.
Brad won one tournament on the PGA Tour and has won four times on the Champions Tour. Bart's three victories on the PGA Tour included two of the most-coveted: The Memorial and The Tour Championship.
"I think everybody is excited about having Bart out here. He's a wonderful guy. Everybody loves him," Brad said.
Brad, 58, said there's no reason to give Bart, 50, any advice about playing on the Champions Tour.
"Bart is world-class," Brad said. "He was 18th in the world for a year. He was top 50 in the world for about three years. You don't give people like that advice. You hope that he gives me advice."
Great White North: The lone Canadian in the ACE Group Classic field has welcomed the support from his country's snowbirds in Naples.
"I've ran into a few already," said British Columbia's Jim Rutledge, who opened with one-under-par 71 on Friday. "Because of the tournament in Montreal (The Montreal Championship), that helps, too. There are some Quebecers here and a few from Toronto."
Rutledge regained his Champions Tour card in November at the tour's qualifying tournament in Coral Springs.
"Always," he said. "There's no scoreboards. There's no way of knowing what's going on. You finish your 72 holes and you go in and you go 'what happened?' It's the toughest tournament of the year for us because it sets up our whole year."
Locally speaking: Loren Roberts, who is a member at Calusa Pines Golf Club, led the contingent of players with local ties. Roberts shot a 68, and is tied for 10th. The 2006 and 2009 champion now has 22 straight rounds at par or better.
Harris was next with the 69. Levi double bogeyed No. 18 to shoot a 71.
" It's great I live right down the road and all my friends are down here for winter, and that's great to have support," Levi said.
Talis Park homeowner and Calusa Pines member Rocco Mediate, who won his tour debut last week at Allianz, shot a 71. "Blah, that's the perfect word to describe it," he said. "I just didn't play that good."
Scott Hoch, playing his first round since 2011, birdied his first hole. The Quail West homeowner ended up with a 73.
Defending champ hurting: Kenny Perry shot a 4-under-par 68, and is tied for 10th, but his left knee is bothering him.
"Not good at all, and surgery on Tuesday," said Perry, who has torn cartilage and had a cortisone shot a few weeks ago.
Valentines on the road: Many of the pros have a long-distance relationship when it comes to their families during the season, and that carried over into celebrating Valentine's Day for some of them. But John Cook had his wife, son and parents in town, and they went out to Campiello on Third Street South.
Mediate got roses for his fiancee, and got a card from her. Tom Lehman received a nice text from his wife, and sent her a card.
MyMiles Fore NCH Program: The Champions Tour players’ group, made up of Loren Roberts (6.48 miles, Hale Irwin (6.23), Larry Nelson (6.83) and Brad Faxon (6.38), collectively logged 25.92 miles Friday in the friendly competition among tournament staff, TwinEagles staff and spectators. In a close second was the TwinEagles Staff who recorded 22.3 miles.
Fans can pick up a pedometer at the NCH Expo Booth to participate in the MyMiles Fore NCH Program. A limited number of pedometers will be available.
Subway Family Putt for Dough: Joe Manzella and Ryan Fitzwater both holed the 50-foot putt Friday, joining Nate Nelson as qualifiers for today’s putt-off immediately following tournament play with the chance at $50,000 and free Subway for a year on the line.
Course breakdown: The par-4 No. 9 gave up just four birdies, and had a 4.213 stroke average. But no one made worse than a bogey. But the always-difficult par-4 No. 18 played the hardest, at 4.363, with six birdies and seven double bogeys. The nines played about the same, with the front at 35.688 and the back at 35.400. The front gave up 149 birdies and four eagles, while the back yielded 154 birdies and three eagles.
Chip shots: Andy Bean withdrew on the 12th hole, citing a hip injury. He was 5-over. ... Langer, Chien Soon Lu, Fred Funk, Mark O'Meara, Roger Chapman and Jeff Freeman had bogey-free rounds. ... Like Langer, John Huston also eagled a par 4, doing so on No. 4, his 13th hole.
Kevin Johnson and Manny Navarro contributed to this article.