Surf to sand for Bob Hope Classic
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2008 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic | Preview | 15 Jan 2008
The PGA Tour departs the sun and surf of Hawaii to head back to the mainland for the first time in 2008 when the PGA Tour hits Palm Desert about 150 miles east of Los Angeles in California for this week’s Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
The 90 hole, 128 player tournament begins on Wednesday, in order to accommodate the extra round, and will be played over four courses in the Palm Desert/La Quinta region including the host course, the Classic Club, La Quinta Country Club, the Palmer Course at PGA West and Silver Rock.
The Classic Course, which will be used in the rotation of courses and as the final round venue, is an Arnold Palmer designed layout used for the first time in this event in 2007. A newcomer to the rota of courses is the Silver Rock resort layout, another designed by Arnold Palmer. Bermuda Dunes, which has been used in every year since the tournament was first played in 1960, is having a rest in 2008 but is understood to be back on the list in 2009.
The tournament’s defending champion is Charley Hoffman, who won his first PGA Tour event in a playoff over John Rollins in 2007. Hoffman improved in each round at the recent Mercedes Championship after a slow start and has a chance to repeat his win but there are more likely winners amongst those lining up.
Now that Mike Weir has regained the form that saw him as one of the world’s best several years ago, he is on track to repeat a win he had in this event in 2003. He also played well here two years ago and is a much improved player than that he was when 48th last year. His season opening 4th place at the Mercedes-Benz Championship was very encouraging and augurs well for his chances this week.
Heath Slocum made a very good start to season 2008 last week when 10th in Hawaii and following a very good finish to the season in 2007 he arrives in Palm Desert, where he finished 4th last year, with the everything pointing to a very good week. The two-time PGA Tour winner could easily make it three.
Scott Verplank has a very good record in this event including top tens in his last two visits. He finished runner up to Chad Campbell in 2006. He was not all that impressive at the Mercedes-Benz Championship but with that run under the belt he will be that much the better for it this week.
Chad Campbell did win this event in 2006 although, that week apart, he has not done all that well in the event. Campbell seemed to give notice last week that he was playing his way back into form with two solid weeks in his lead up to this week finishing 12th in Kapalua and 10th last week in Honolulu.
Daniel Chopra may be close to needing a break given the amount and quality of golf he has been playing of late but he played well in the event until a final round 78 last year and in the form he is in he might have just enough in reserve for one more good week.
Justin Leonard won the event in 2005 and did well enough when 8th at the Mercedes-Benz to suggest that another win is close at hand while two for longer odds may be Troy Matteson and George McNeil.
McNeil, who played well last week in Hawaii, seems to be finding his feet on the PGA Tour after being the medallist at Tour School in late 2006. He won in his rookie season and did well enough in this event last year while Matteson also played well last week in Hawaii and in his only start in this event finished 24th in 2006.
The Australians are headed once again by Robert Allenby who missed the cut by a shot last week in Hawaii but who finished 8th in this event twelve months ago.
Nathan Green, Rod Pampling, John Senden, Nick Flanagan, Brett Rumford, Mathew Goggin, Mark Hensby, Matt Jones, Steve Elkington, Stephen Leaney and New Zealand surprise packet last week, Tim Wilkinson make up the balance of the Australasian contingent. Peter Lonard was to have played this week but was a late withdrawal.
The tournament is played over four rounds in the pro-am format with the final round reserved for those professionals making the cut.