End of an era at Bob Hope Chrysler Classic
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2005 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic | Preview | 25 Jan 2005
The ninety hole Bob Hope Chrysler Classic gets underway on Wednesday with a field that is missing the likes of Woods, Singh and Els, but does include the world number five and the winner of the event in two of the last three years, Phil Mickelson.
Played over four courses in the La Quinta, Palm Springs area of California, the event has once again added the original William Bell designed Tamarisk Country Club, which replaces the Indian Wells Country Club that has been dropped for the first time in the forty year history of the event. Indian Wells at just under 6500 yards was no longer appropriate for an event of this nature given its lack of length. Tamarisk Country Club, with its recent upgrading, gets another chance to be part of the quartet of courses, having been amongst the rotation on various occasions over the years. Tamarisk Country Club was actually one of the first courses used back in the inaugural staging of the event in 1960.
The newest of the four courses is the host course, the Arnold Palmer designed PGA West Course built in 1987. The other two courses are the William Bell designed Bermuda Dunes Country Club and the Lawrence Hughes designed La Quinta Country Club. For Tamarisk, Bermuda Dunes and La Quinta however, it will be the last time they play a role in the tournament, with three new courses joining the PGA West Course in 2006.
Played over five rounds with the first four days rotated amongst the four courses, the cut is made on Saturday evening and those successful return to the host course, the PGA West, for the final round on Sunday.
It is not only a case of being comfortable with the courses at this event, but with the format. Playing with pro am partners over the first four days does not suit everyone and being prepared to go along with the ups and downs that playing with amateur partners can bring over the four days, is a significant pre-requisite to success here.
The pre-tournament favourite is Phil Mickelson who will be playing the event for the seventh time. He missed the cut in his first two attempts early in his career but in his last four starts he has been twice the champion, once 6th and once 16th. With last week’s ordinary start to the year behind him he may well be ready to show up again here although there is a degree of uncertainty about his form (59 at the Grand Slam apart) in recent months.
David Toms did not play here in 2004 but did play in the previous eight years. He has not missed a cut and finished third behind Jesper Parnevik in 2000. With a good start to the year in both events in Hawaii (he was 8th at the Mercedes and 13th at the Sony) he shapes as a likely prospect this week.
Mike Weir has played just the one event this season when 13th at the Mercedes, neither good nor bad, although his second round 63 was brilliant and suggested that he is close to his best. He is a winner here two years ago and it might just be that he can do it again.
Davis Love III is the world number nine and although he has played well here occasionally, he has hardly set the world on fire in his ten visits. He is making his debut this year here and with an ordinary run at the end of last year I would prefer to see how he shapes up before committing any of my hard earned to him.
Jonathan Kaye has made a great start to 2005 with his runner up placing at the Mercedes and a 20th placing at the Sony. His form here at this event has been very good, 4th and 9th at his last two attempts a good sign for a player who nearly beat such a great field in Kapaulau. He will be at good odds also.
Others who could be considered chances are Stewart Cink, who made such a great start to the year in Hawaii, Chris DiMarco, who starts his 2005 season here but has had some good performances here previously, Jay Haas, who has top threes here the last two years and Kirk Triplett who makes his 2005 debut here but who has played solidly here over several years.
Heading the Australian list is Robert Allenby who has occasionally played well here but having missed both his first two cuts in 2005 is a little on the back foot at present. Peter Lonard who showed some good early form last week at the Buick is here for the first time.
Other Australsians entered are Steve Allan, Aaron Baddeley, Geoff Ogilvy and John Senden with Brendan Jones anxiously awaiting a start.