Bob Hope by another name
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2012 Humana Challenge partnered with Clinton Foundation | Preview | 17 Jan 2012
The PGA Tour has moved east to California to begin the West Coast swing of its 2012 schedule, the time honoured Bob Hope Classic being played under a revised name and a new sponsor namely the Humana Challenge in conjunction in partnership with the Clinton Foundation.
Humana is a health insurance company whose name now graces the event which has been known as the Bob Hope since the mid 1960’s after being played for the first time in 1961. The event was a 90 hole tournament until last year but will now be played over 72 holes.
The tournament is played over three courses in the La Quinta area namely the Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer courses at PGA West and the La Quinta Country Club.
The defending champion is Jhonattan Vegas who defeated Bill Haas and Gary Woodland in a playoff to win his first PGA Tour event and announce his arrival as one of the characters and stars of the PGA Tour.
Haas had also won the event in 2010 and so his form at the three venues is unquestioned and, given the player he has become since, his chances of another good week are very good despite an average week to start the year at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Phil Mickelson has won this event twice although he has not play the tournament since 2007, typically now delaying his start to the season until a week or two later. He has not played a tournament since the Singapore Open (Presidents Cup aside) and his chances are a little hard to gauge.
Matt Kuchar has developed into one of the most consistent players on Tour in recent times and does enjoy a good record at this event having finished runner-up in 2010 and 7th last year.
Dustin Johnson is the leading world ranked player in the field but has not played the event since 2009. Other than a missed cut at the Australian Open, Johnson’s form late in the season was solid if unspectacular and as a typically fast starter to the season his chances appear reasonably good.
Brian Gay might be one for longer odds this week having put together a good tournament last week and having been inside the top twenty in each of his last three starts in the event.
Anthony Kim played very well late in the season in 2011 after earlier injuring himself and in his last visit to this event in 2008 he finished 3rd.
Charles Howell has done well enough at this tournament and did well enough last week in Honolulu to believe that he could win his first PGA Tour title in nearly five years. Howell finished off 2011 well and his runner-up finish last week was a continuation of where he left off.
The Australians in the field are headed in terms of world ranking by the in-form John Senden who played well in Australia and who had a reasonable week last week in Honolulu. Senden has played this tournament well on occasions and his recent form suggests this could be another one of them.
Greg Chalmers arrives in California after his great summer in Australia. While this event has not always been good to him he did finish a very respectable 11th last year and might just improve his record here considerably.
Stuart Appleby, Steve Elkington, Mathew Goggin, Jarrod Lyle, Greg Norman, Nick O’Hern and Rod Pampling round out the Australian contingent in the US$5.6 million event.
Norman is playing the tournament as a favour to his good friend Bill Clinton after whom the Clinton Foundation is named.
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