It's official: Stephen Ames is your 2024 Chubb Classic champion

It's official: Stephen Ames is your 2024 Chubb Classic champion

By Jeff Babineau


NAPLES, Fla. – Stephen Ames has won golf tournaments all over the world, but never quite like he did on Sunday.


With daylight yet to appear and rain already falling outside his window, he woke to a text informing him that the final round of the Chubb Classic presented by SERVPRO had been cancelled due to a storm in the area. The 36-hole scores would stand as official; Ames, the tournament’s leader, was the 2024 champion.


Ames caught, then passed, Rocco Mediate a day earlier on the Black Course at Tiburon Golf Club, shooting 8-under 64, a round that moved him to 13-under 131 through two rounds. With a half-inch of rain having fallen overnight Saturday and more rain expected to deluge the area through mid-afternoon Sunday, the final round, first shortened to nine holes over a makeshift routing, was canceled shortly after 6 a.m.


At one point mid-way through his round on Saturday, without many leaderboards around to show him where he stood, Ames went to his bag and took out his phone to discover that he actually was leading. Knowing that Saturday’s round might be it considering the dire forecast set for Sunday, he knew it was time to try to separate himself.


“I saw that (he was leading) and I started saying, ‘OK, maybe I should just push down the pedal a little harder,’ which I did, and more birdies started falling, which is obviously fun,” Ames said.


He becomes the PGA TOUR Champions’ first 36-hole tournament winner since the 2021 Insperity Invitational, won by fellow Canadian Mike Weir. At 10-under 134, Mediate finished alone in second, his best finish on the Champions Tour since winning in 2019. (He has back-to-back top 10s to start the season.) Ernie Els, Paul Broadhurst, Alex Cejka and Mark Hensby tied for third, four shots behind Ames.


Poor weather in southwest Florida could do little to dampen what Ames has accomplished in the last 53 weeks. Starting with the Trophy Hassan II in Morocco – where Ames was headed Sunday evening to defend his title – Ames has won five times in 24 starts. He turns 60 in April, and Ames considers this stretch to be maybe the finest he ever has produced.


“I would probably say it is, yes, for sure,” Ames said.


That solid play showed up – again – on Saturday, when he shot 64 despite not feeling all that comfortable with the putter. He did not make his first birdie until the fifth hole, but that sparked four in a row, and he never cooled down. Ames made nine birdies over his final 14 holes, and in two days, made 14 birdies against a single bogey, which came late in the round on Friday.


Ames, who won The PLAYERS Championship in 2006, the biggest of his four PGA TOUR wins, won two times on PGA TOUR Champions from 2014-22 ­– and now has won five times in just more than a year.


“Overall, the mindset was pretty much what it was last year,” Ames said Sunday, the glass Chubb Classic champion’s trophy sitting alongside him. “2022 was a very consistent, great year for me, when I was knocking on the door multiple times but didn’t actually have a win.


“When last year came up and I won four times, I was like, ‘Whoa, this is a little different for me ...’ So I learned a lot about being in that situation.”


Ames said there are a number of factors that have led to his sudden surge and improved results. One, he is healthy again, having recovered from a bad shoulder that slowed him during COVID a couple of years ago. He likes the swing progressions he has made with Canadian teacher Shaugheen Nakhjavani, with whom he has worked about five years.


And mentally, Ames said he is just plain stronger. He works on it. He was never the biggest fan of Tibuon’s Black Course, but this week, he convinced himself differently. When a new season rolled around, Ames, who resides in Turks and Caicos with his wife, Kathy, hadn’t played much golf. But he was able to quickly shift into a sound competitive mindset, leading him to a T8 in the season-opener in Hawaii and then to victory at Chubb. Winning is becoming a habit.


“We had almost a month and a half, two months off,” Ames said. “And three weeks prior to coming here, I didn’t play much golf. The mental part was the part that was very capable. It was very unusual, capable at the same time, to me to switch on and go. That’s something I took from ’23 coming into this year.


“At the end of the day, some people may say it was a lucky win, because it was only two rounds. But at the same time, I think I was already in the mode where I think I would have won by five or six again.”


Ames had won his fourth title of 2023, the Boeing Classic, by seven shots, playing his final five holes in 6-under. He, as well as his game, are in a very good place.


“Stephen is so tough right now, to catch him, three shots in nine holes, would be a big ask,” Mediate said on Sunday after being told the final round was canceled. “His golf swing is so good, it really doesn’t break down. It’s like him and (Steven) Alker, they look to be in the same mode to me. They don’t really miss a lot, and if they putt decent, they’re right there.


“Stephen (Ames) hits it good, and hits it long. Really long. And straight. He hits it a mile, and that’s an advantage. He’s just good. He was hurt for a while, he had a bad shoulder, and he has come into his own. Now he’s healthy, and he’s playing beautiful golf.”


If the weather could not be beautiful, at least Ames’ golf was.

February 18, 2024
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