ACE Group Classic
ACE Group Classic
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Doyle wins wire to wire

Allen Doyle used his low-trajectory shot to overcome gusty wins for a 3-under-par 69, capping a wire-to-wire effort today for his first Senior PGA Tour win at the $1.2 million ACE Group Classic.

Last December's medalist at Senior PGA Tour qualifying school finished at 13-under 203 at the Bay Colony Golf Club, five shots ahead of second-place Vicente Fernandez.

"In my history, I've been the front-runner a lot,'' said Doyle, 50, a Senior Tour rookie who became the first player ever to win both a Senior PGA Tour tournament and a Nike Tour event.

"I've said 100 times, the guy playing under the most pressure each day is the leader. I hoped for a good start this year, but I didn't think that included a win in Florida. We'll sure take it.''

Doyle is a former nationally-ranked amateur who turned professional in 1995 and won three Nike Tour events. The following year, he became the oldest rookie in PGA Tour history when he qualified at age 47.

With winds gusting to 20 mph, Doyle's hockey-style golf swing served him well. He opened the round with a two-stroke lead over Fernandez, Hugh Baiocchi and Graham Marsh and never was really challenged.

Even when he bogeyed the second hole, no one could gain any ground. Doyle got to 1-under for the day by the sixth hole and threw in birdies at Nos. 8 and 12 for the largest margin of victory this season on the Senior Tour.

"I was really kind of pleased the wind was blowing like it was," said Doyle, a college hockey player some three decades ago. "A guy with a big, full swing, it's probably harder for him than it is for me. It was going to be hard for anyone else to make a move."

Doyle's win marked the third time in five events this season that a Senior Tour rookie has won. Bruce Fleisher set a standard when he won his first two senior events, then finished second in last week's event outside Tampa.

Fleisher sat out the Naples tournament after coming down with pneumonia. Even he may not have been able to catch Doyle today.

"He's so steady," said Fernandez, who shot a 72 today. "I think he will do very well. He had all the pressure, but he played very well."

Fernandez finished at 8-under 208. Marsh shot a 73 today to lead a group of four golfers at 209, along with Larry Nelson (71), George Archer (71) and Bruce Summerhays (69).