ACE Group Classic: First Tee Challenge
Part of ACE week.
2012 ACE GROUP CLASSIC
25 Years of Champions Tour in Naples
- Langer returns to form with four-shot victory in 2011
- Couples holds off hard-charging Armour in 2010
- Roberts is Boss of the Bay in 2009
- Hoch wins playoff for second straight victory in 2008
- Wadkins birdies on No. 18 and wins The ACE in 2007
- Loren keeps on soarin' in 2006
- Mark James holds off Irwin, Wargo in 2005
- Stadler wins 3-way playoff in 2004
- Vicente Fernandez takes 2003 title
- Hale Irwin rallies past Tom Watson in 2002
- Gil Morgan takes 2001 title for second win
- Lanny Wadkins wins four-way playoff in 2000
- Allen Doyle goes wire-to-wire in 1999
- Gil Morgan's chip wins it in 1998
- Hale Irwin edges Bob Murphy in 1997
- "Mr. 59" wins by 1 in '96
- Bob Murphy takes rain-shortened 1995 event
- Mike Hill goes back-to-back in 1994
- Mike Hill staves off Stockton in 1993
- Jimmy Powell's hot finish wins it in 1992
- Lee Trevino does it again in 1991
- Lee Trevino outduels Bruce Crampton in 1990
- Gene Littler rallies past Henning in 1989
- Gary Player wins inaugural event in 1988
NAPLES — Grace Rokela stepped up to an 8-foot putt on the 18th hole at TwinEagles with Southwest Florida pride on the line.
The First Tee of Naples/Collier golfer drained the putt, winning the four-hole match against the First Tee of Philadelphia on Tuesday as part of the ACE Group Classic.
Madison Gilmartin and Daniel Gentilucci of the First Tee of Philadelphia, playing with Champions Tour pro Jay Sigel, double-bogeyed the final hole, so Rokela’s putt gave the Naples/Collier team a one-stroke victory.
Rokela and Austin Schultz of Naples/Collier played with two-time ACE Group Classic champion Loren Roberts. The junior teams each hit drives off the tee, then picked the best, and alternated shots the rest of the way. The pros played their own ball.
“It was a lot of fun, good experiences,” said Rokela, a junior on the Gulf Coast High School team. “(Roberts is) such a nice man. We talked a lot about fitness and I really learned from his game about his course management and what I need to do in my own game. And he makes those putts.”
“It’s great to see the kids that want to get out and work at it,” Roberts said. “The First Tee program, golf is the hook to get them there, but it’s not just about golf. It’s about life skills. It’s about growing and how you approach life, and that’s what I think all of the professionals on tour love about The First Tee.”
It was the third straight victory in the four years of the event for Naples/Collier. The first two years were played as one-hole events immediately after the conclusion of play on Sunday. Last year was a three-hole competition at the Quarry.
The teams played Nos. 10, 11, 17 and 18 on Tuesday.
“This is really cool, that’s for sure, playing with two really good golf pros,” said Schultz, a South Fort Myers senior who is headed to Florida Southern. “It was a lot of fun. I played pretty good, so that’s always fun when you’re playing with some good golfers.
“I noticed they were so consistent. When they did hit a bad shot, which was not bad at all for them, they still held a positive attitude and just got on the next shot.”
It’s just the start of a big week for the First Tee of Naples/Collier, which is in its fifth year as a chapter and first as the tournament’s host charity.
“Tournament week has always been special to us because five years ago our chapter was launched at the Champions Tour event, which was held at Quail West at that time,” First Tee of Naples/Collier executive director Cindy Darland said. “The ACE Group Classic has always involved our First Tee chapter with their First Tee of Philadelphia being here, experiencing golf with our kids is very special.”
A total of 24 First Tee children participated in Tuesday night’s “Deal or No Deal” pro-am pairings party, which raised $6,000 for the chapter last year.
“It’s a fun event, and a fundraiser for our First Tee chapter, and good exposure for the community to see our children,” Darland said.
Stephanie Carlozzi and Josh Pisarri, along with Gilmartin and Gentilucci, will make up a pro-am team in today’s pro-am. The First Tee kids and their parents will have dinner tonight. On Thursday, Carlozzi, Gilmartin and Gentilucci will play TwinEagles’ Eagle Course, the site of the LPGA Tour’s CME Group Titleholders this November.
First Tee juniors and parents also will be honorary observers with a couple of groups, and more will greet the Champions Tour pros on the first tee on Saturday and Sunday, introducing themselves and handing them their scorecards.
On Sunday, exclusive sponsor Arthrex Inc. and First Tee Club trustees will be part of the trophy ceremony.