The PGA Tour heads to California this week for the newly named Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela defends the title.
Since 1965 this tournament has carried the name of Bob Hope, in one form another as the “Bob Hope Classic.” The event has been won by some notable players, including: Arnold Palmer, Johnny Miller, Tom Kite, Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples.
Last season Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela announced his arrival on the PGA Tour by coming through a playoff against Gary Woodland and Bill Haas to claim his first title.
There have been some changes to this event for 2012. The tournament is no longer to be known as the Bob Hope Classic – the new sponsors are Humana in partnership with the Clinton Foundation with a focus for the tournament on health and well-being.
The competition is being reduced from 90 to 72 holes with only three rather than four courses in play. SilverRock’s Resort Course has been dropped from the schedule.
The pro-am element of the event has been retained but players will now partner just one amateur in each of the first three rounds, also the amateurs will rotate so they don’t play with the same pros more than once. The final round will be for the professionals only.
An eclectic field has assembled including young guns like Seung-yul Noh and Danny Lee as well as some old warriors including: Greg Norman, Steve Elkington and Jesper Parnevik.
This is an event that tends to witness extremely low scoring – David Duval shot a 59 around the PGA West Palmer Course back in 1999 and winning totals have been close to 30-under-par in years gone by.
Venue: PGA West Palmer Course (Host course), La Quinta, California
Date: Jan 19-22
Course stats: PGA West – par 72, 6,950 yards; La Quinta Country Club – par 72, 7,060 yards; Nicklaus at PGA West – par 72, 6,924 yards
Purse: $5,600,000 Winner: $1,080,000
Defending Champion: Jhonattan Vegas (-27)
Thursday 19 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm
Friday 20 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm
Saturday 21 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 9pm
Sunday 22 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 9pm
Bill Haas – It’s difficult to look beyond last year’s FedEx Cup champion. He won this event in 2010 and lost in a playoff in 2011. He’s played his last 20 rounds on the PGA Tour in the 60s.
Phil Mickelson – Lefty will be looking for better fortunes in 2012. He has a great record in this event with two titles to his name. He hasn’t played since November so we won’t know how his game is until Thursday. If he’s on form, he’ll surely be a contender.
Martin Laird – Currently second in the FedEx Cup and runner-up in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, this could be a big year for the Scot. He was tied for 22nd in this event last season.
Key hole: 18th – Palmer West: This will be the final hole of the week. A 543 yard par 5 where there is the option of biting off part of the hole to try and reach the green in two. Whether you gamble or play safe there is sand and water in play.
Skills required: Making birdies. This tournament tends to be a shootout with the winner going well under par. In the last four years this event has witnessed four 61s and no less than 14 62s.
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