- Associated Press - Thursday, February 14, 2013

NAPLES, FLA. (AP) - Defending champion Kenny Perry put off surgery on his left knee until next week so he could play in the Champions Tour’s ACE Group Classic.

Hampered by torn cartilage, Perry had a cortisone shot about three weeks ago and is scheduled to have surgery Tuesday. He tied for 19th last week in the Allianz Championship.

“It’s holding up OK,” Perry said. “It’s gotten a little better each day. I protected it on a few shots last week, and I hung back. When I do that, I hit big hooks, and it got me in some serious trouble.”

Twenty-eight of the top 30 on the 2012 money list will open play Friday on TwinEagles’ Talon Course, with 2009 champion Fred Couples and Corey Pavin skipping the event to play in the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust Open.

Two-time Charles Schwab Cup winner Tom Lehman and four-time money champion Bernhard Langer are two of 19 major winners in the field. Langer won the 2011 tournament and finished second last year.

“I like the courses in Florida,” Langer said. “I’m used to the grasses and it’s generally windy, which makes it difficult. I seem to cope with those conditions fairly well, but you never know in golf. Every day is different, every week is different. That’s what it makes it so interesting.”

Lehman tied for third last year.

“Last year being my first, it was a new experience,” Lehman said. “I was very impressed with the golf course, with the crowds that came out to watch. It was a very, very fun environment to play golf in, so I’m very happy to be back again this year.”

Rocco Mediate is coming off a victory Sunday in the Allianz in his first start on the 50-and-over tour, while Scott Hoch, the 2008 champion, is returning from a thumb injury that sidelined him all of last year.

“People can say what they want, but you don’t really expect that to happen,” Mediate said. “Like I said before, I did the work, you prepare all you can prepare, and all that stuff, but you never know when it’s going to kick in, and it kicked in.”

Heavy rain stopped play Thursday in the afternoon pro-am after most of the groups played nine holes. More rain is expected Friday.

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