After a big focus on the 50th anniversary celebration last year, the Bob Hope Classic returns on the PGA Tour schedule with a little less ammunition for this this time around.
This venerable tournament was once a mainstay for the tour’s best players but wallowing in a rough economy and without a title sponsor it is a little less glamorous than it once was.
Many of the PGA Tour’s bright lights will be playing in the desert this week unfortunately it won’t be the California Desert. European standouts such as Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, and Rory McIlroy will instead be slugging it out at the Abu Dhabi Championship halfway around the world.
It is tough to blame them, the five round hit and giggle pro-am format at the Bob Hope Classic can be a lethargic experience even when you’re playing for a first-place check of $900,000. And yes, that is slightly down from the $918,000 payout that Pat Perez took home last year for his inaugural tour victory. Perez tore up the desert last year, finishing play at -33. The runner-up was John Merrick.
There will still be some star power in the Palm Springs event beyond the usual smattering of Hollywood A-Listers playing in the pro-am. Ryan Palmer, coming off his win last week at the Sony Open in Hawaii, will try to win two in a row. Mike Weir, a winner here in 2003 and a regular contender, will also tee it up. But overall, it is limited.
Fans will get to see a lot of fresh faces at the Bob Hope Classic, the 128 player field is ripe with 2009 Nationwide Tour and Qualifying School graduates – almost 3 dozen on them by my quick count.
Sponsors’ exemptions include David Duval, Rickie Fowler, and Arnold Palmer’s grandson, Sam Saunders.
The field faces a four-course rotation: Arnold Palmer Private at PGA West (72/6,930); Jack Nicklaus Private at PGA West (72/6,951); La Quinta CC (72/7,060); and the Arnold Palmer Course at SilverRock Resort (72/7,553).
Television coverage will be provided by The Golf Channel from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern standard Time on Wednesday through Friday, and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. each day on the weekend.
To get more insight on the club’s the pros are using this week have a look at the GolfWRX.com tournament photos. You can start with part 1 here.