PGA Tour hits mainland for Bob Hope
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2011 Bob Hope Classic | Preview | 18 Jan 2011
The PGA Tour hits mainland USA this week when the Bob Hope Classic gets underway over four courses at in the La Quinta region of Palm Desert about an hour and a half south east of Los Angeles.
PGA West’s two courses the Palmer and Nicklaus layouts join forces with the La Quinta Country Club and Silver Rock to host the 90 hole Pro-Am event, the tournament rotated over all four courses before returning to the Palmer Course at PGA West for Sunday’s final round.
Last year Bill Haas won the first of two events in 2010 when he defeated Tim Clark, Matt Kuchar and Bubba Watson by one shot after birdies at his final two holes saw him secure his first PGA Tour title.
On paper Clark shapes as the man to beat this week. He finished strongly last week in Honolulu to finish in a share of second behind Mark Wilson and not only did he finish runner-up in this event last year but he also finished 5th in 2009 and runner-up on debut in 2005.
The South African’s biggest concern however is a foot blister that developed last week in Hawaii and given that this event is to be played over five rounds it might be that withdrawal is not yet out of the question.
Matt Kuchar is another who has the credentials to win this week and in terms of current form it seems he must be a strong chance. Kuchar led the money list in 2010 and has started the 2011 season well with a 5th at the Hyundai and a 6th place finish in Honolulu. That he finished second last year in this event suggests he does not mind the golf courses or the format and he should be right in the firing line on Sunday.
Alex Prugh finished 5th in this event in just his second start on the PGA Tour and recorded a solid first season at this level in 2010. He played well enough last week to finish 20th and might be an outside chance.
Rory Sabbatini has seldom played this event but when he has he has done well including when 2nd on debut in 2000. He did well last week in his first event of the season and appears to be a longer odds chance.
Steve Marino went close last week to securing his first PGA Tour victory and he gets another chance this week. He has played this event on three previous occasions, getting better each time and his first big breakthrough must surely come soon.
The Australian contingent is not large this week Jarrod Lyle, Matt Jones, Nathan Green, Greg Chalmers, Nick O’Hern, John Senden, Rod Pampling, Steve Elkington.
There will be a lot of interest in the performance of Nick O’Hern who plays his first PGA Tour event since the Players Championship last May. He played the Australian Open and the Australian PGA Championship in his homeland finishing a very creditable 3rd at Hyatt Regency Coolum in just his second tournament appearance after knee surgery.
Pampling is an interesting entry as he gets a start courtesy of a sponsor’s exemption. Pampling has lost his PGA Tour status following a disappointing year in 2010 and will play the Nationwide Tour this year.