NAPLES, Fla. (FEB. 16, 2014) – Kirk Triplett (67-67-66= -16) earned The ACE Group Classic title in his first appearance at The TwinEagles Club after calming sinking a six-foot par putt on the final hole win. With a potential three-man playoff in the works, missed par putts from defending champion Bernard Langer and Duffy Waldorf opened the door for Triplett to claim his third Champions tour victory and the $240,000 winner’s check.
“In my career I’ve never won out here on this side of the world. I’ve got a couple wins at Pebble and Tucson and Reno and L.A. I’m a West Coast guy through and through, so to win on this Bermuda grass is I think a little bit of a minor miracles for me,” joked Triplett in his post tournament interview.
The dramatic finish on 18 proved fitting as it was the most difficult hole for the week with an average score of 4.383 (+.383). Triplett’s shot sequence on 18 started with a drive that left him at 175 yards out but also placed him in a divot. He hit a 6 iron just pin high left; ending with a six-foot putt which was two-thirds of was uphill and downhill. Staying in a strong mental game came in clutch once out of the divot and lining up to take his final putt.
“Sometimes you’re playing these tournaments and you’re not in contention but you have a good last round and you get there with three or four holes to go,” Triplett said, “It is such a shock to be playing with the lead your get really nervous. But since the middle of yesterday I’ve been playing on the leader number, you know, so you kind of get in that mode of it’s not life or death.”
Not only was No. 18 the most difficult for the event, but it was also the toughest to birdie with just 13 in the tournament and only two during the final round with birdies from Jeff Sluman and Scott Dunlap.
Triplett’s win earned him 240 points in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race. Waldorf finished second for the second consecutive week. After losing in a playoff to Michael Allen last week, Waldorf saw his chances slip away during the final round when he made a bogey on his 54th hole, leaving him T2 with Langer and Olin Browne. For their efforts, they each earn $117,116 in official prize money.
For the fifteenth time in the 27 years of the Champions Tour event, the winner was decided by either a playoff or a single stroke.