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Southwest Florida golf: Chubb Classic looking at extension, adds more to Taste of SW Florida

Greg Hardwig
Naples Daily News

The Chubb Classic already was ahead of the game for 2020.

Naples' PGA Tour Champions event had secured its course over a month earlier than last year, announcing a return to The Classics at Lely Resort in mid-September.

With its 33rd year in Naples starting next week, the longest stretch of a Champions Tour event in one metropolitan area, tournament director Kevin Diaz and management group Octagon are trying to finalize an extension with title sponsor Chubb to make sure that continues. Chubb, which was previously The ACE Group, has been the title sponsor since 1999.

"Things are progressing very nicely," Diaz said. "Chubb is doing their due diligence for extensions as they usually do. I would say it's in an extremely positive place."

Diaz and Octagon believe that goes for the tournament and its current home as well.

They've added more to the plate, literally, by extending the Taste of SW Florida, a combination of food and beverage sampling and a tournament ticket, for a third day, meaning it is available for all three rounds of the tournament, Friday through Sunday, as well as events geared toward women and also the community.

"The Taste of SW Florida continues to have strong support," Diaz said. "Our restaurant partners are excited about (the additional day)."

Spectators enjoy themselves to food and beverages inside of the "Taste of Southwest Florida" dining area during the first round of the Chubb Classic at TwinEagles Club in 2017. The event has added a third day for 2020 in the Chubb Classic's second year at The Classics at Lely Resort.

Belgian Yummies, Bokampers, Fire & Rice, Michelbob's, Naples Flatbread Kitchen & Bar, New York Pizza & Pasta, Season's 52, The Arlington and TooJay's are the restaurants listed. 

The tournament is moving the location of Taste to a place closer to the 18th fairway where those attending can see some golf. That wasn't the case last year when it was closer to the driving range.

More:Two-time Chubb Classic champion Fred Couples commits

Plus:Chubb Classic: Miguel Angel Jimenez beats Bernhard Langer, Olin Browne in playoff

And:Naples connection that brought the Chubb Classic back to Lely Resort

Diaz and Octagon also have added an Executive Women's Day on Tuesday up at Bentley Village, plus a free Community Celebration that's open to the public on Saturday evening.

Executive Women's Day is from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and features keynote speaker Noelle Pikus Pace, a two-time Olympian in the skeleton who recovered from a compound leg fracture when she was struck by a bobsled. There will be a luncheon and a cocktail hour for networking, and also a golf clinic.

"We've worked with her before," Diaz said of Pikus Pace. "She's extremely engaging. She has this playbook that she works with — it's not just listening to a 60-minute speaker, but it's an engaging event. She's also a wife and a mom."

A power panel will include: Carol Boyd, the regional corporate director at The Naples Trust Company; Kimberly Leach Johnson, partner and firm chair at Quarles & Brady; and Chief Stephanie Spell from the Collier County Sheriff's Office where she heads the community engagement department.

A fireside chat will include Diaz's wife, Laura, a two-time LPGA Tour winner, and Lisa Murray, an executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Octagon Worldwide, and Fran O'Brien, a division president for Chubb. Murray was named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Sports.

"It's going to be a wonderful mix," said Diaz, who can be contacted regarding registration at kevin.diaz@octagon.com. "The theme of the day is Create Your Legacy. It's going to be a really cool, a really unique opportunity. It's not only about them achieving the success that they've had but what does that mean? What do you want people to know about you? How does that impact others?"

The first Community Celebration, which is free and open to the public, will go from 4 to 8 p.m. and feature some live music, food trucks, and games.

"It's a casual evening party," Diaz said. "Working with the community down here and the Lely membership, it's essentially a block party feel, and it's something we're excited to integrate."

The First Tee Champions Challenge, which features junior golfers from 11 chapters participating in their own mini-tournament, enters its 11th year with an added twist. Tying into some of The First Tee's core values, in addition to golf, the juniors will go to Meals of Hope on Friday, Feb. 14 for a couple of hours to pack meals. 

"I think it's going to be a great experience for the kids and it's going to be a wonderful addition for us to see and work with community partners," Diaz said.

Bernhard Langer chips on the 18th hole during a playoff of the final round of the Chubb Classic in The Classics at Lely Resort on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019.

As the Chubb Classic enters a new decade, with hopefully a new extension on the horizon, Diaz and Octagon will be looking at 2021.

"We would love to secure our golf course as soon as possible," he said. "The reality of that conversation is it has to align with communication with Chubb and that extension. We have to continue to manage those two things. We have some very positive conversations.  We have to let each piece kind of secure itself.

"The support here in the Lely community has been fantastic, the membership, the community beyond the membership, the staff. The folks have been great to work with and wonderful partners."

Greg Hardwig is a sports reporter for the Naples Daily News and The News-Press. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter: @NDN_Ghardwig, email him at ghardwig@naplesnews.com. Support local journalism with this special subscription offer at https://cm.naplesnews.com/specialoffer/

Chubb Classic

When: Feb. 13-16

Where: The Classics at Lely Resort

Info: ChubbClassic.com or 593-3900.