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Preview and Predictions: Humana Challenge



The PGA Tour heads back to the mainland this week for the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, Calif. The event is known under its previous name, the Bob Hope Classic, but has recently gone through a sponsor change and gotten a face lift in the past few years with the help of Former President Bill Clinton.

The Humana Challenge is the first Pro-Am style event on the 2013 Tour schedule, with amateurs and celebrities alike going step for step with Tour stars. Much like the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am, the Humana is held at three different venues — The PGA West Palmer and Nicklaus courses and La Quinta Country Club. Sunday’s final round will be held at the host course, the Palmer Course.

Historically, the Humana is a very low scoring event with the winners carrying a 66.29 stroke average over the past 12 years. Mark Wilson is the defending champion, coming off a 2012 victory in which he fended off Johnson Wagner, Robert Garrigus and John Mallinger with a winning score of 24-under. It was the first Humana Challenge in over 50 years with a 72 hole format, which previously had been a 90-hole event.

This event has always been entertaining to watch, not only for the low scoring but also for the impressive celebrity draw it brings. Some of the biggest names in Hollywood, music and business will converge on the desert this week. As of Monday, notable committed names included Anthony Anderson, Michael Bolton, Alice Cooper and Palm Desert native Carson Daly.

Players to Watch

A good portion of the field is making their 2013 debut, including former champion Phil Mickeleson, as well as U.S. Open winner Lucas Glover, Japanese sensation Ryo Ishikawa and  PGA Champion David Toms. But with the low scoring nature of the tournament, it should favor the player who has one or two starts under his belt. Unless of course you are former champ Phil Mickelson, who has won this tournament twice and has had four top 10’s straight out of the winter hiatus.

Charles Howell is coming off a strong debut at the Sony Open where he made 16 birdies and two eagles against only three bogeys for a T3 finish. Former champion Pat Perez is also a name to watch this week, coming off a top-10 finish at the Sony. The often combustable Perez is armed with a new, calmer attitude going into 2013 that could put the 36-year-old’s name on more leader boards in 2013.

“I’m just trying to look at things in a positive way,” Perez said in a recent interview with Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski. “Not a fake positive, but just not getting down, not getting negative.”

Fun Facts

Yardage: Palmer Course at PGA West — 6,950 yards (par 72)

  • Lowest score: David Duval blistered the Palmer Course for a 59 in the final round in 1999.

Yardage: Nicklaus Course at PGA West — 6,924 yards (par 72)

  • The course was built to host the 1987 Ryder Cup, but the event was moved to the East Coast to better accommodate television

Yardage: La Quinta Country Club — 7,060 yards (par 72)

  • La Quinta CC  has been part of the tournament’s rotation since 1964.

Keys to Victory

The Humana has always been a shoot out, favoring the player that is white hot with the putter and the wedges. It doesn’t necessarily favor a big hitter, as the longest course maxes out at just under 7100 yards. It’s a 72-hole free for all with the winner usually making in excess of 25 birdies.

Mark Wilson torched the desert last year hitting almost 90 percent of the greens and 76 percent of the fairways. That along with a hot putter resulted in a total score of 24-under and Wilson’s fifth career victory. The key to victory is simple — go as low as you possibly can and hope for the best. The only X Factor is the unpredictable desert wind that has blown the field around in past years. Charley Hoffman’s won in 2007 with a score of 17-under in the old five-round format.

My pick to win?

Winner: Charles Howell III

Score: 23-under

Coming off his T3 at Sony Open, I think it’s time that Charles Howell breaks out and wins for the third time on Tour. His putter has been his Achilles’ heel in past years, but if the Sony was any indication it seems that his confidence has been restored and I look for him to go really deep this week.

TV Times

Golf Channel — Thursday through Sunday, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. EST

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum.


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John Wunder was born in Seattle, Wash., and grew up playing at Rainier G&CC. He moved to Southern California when he had the rare opportunity of working in the Anaheim Angels clubhouse and has been living in Cali. ever since. He has a severe passion/addiction for the game and has been a member of GolfWRX since 2005. He now works as the Director of Development and Production for The Coalition Group in Los Angeles, Calif.



  1. Pingback: Humana Challenge Betting Preview |

  2. Adam

    Jan 16, 2013 at 12:39 am

    I love Matt Kuchar this week. Nice start to the season, great short game and past history at PGA West…

  3. Troy Vayanos

    Jan 15, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Always tough to pick the winner of a US tour event.

    I like the chances of Brendon De Jonge and Harry English. Both these guys made solid starts to the year last week. This follows up from consistent seasons in 2012 and I expect 2013 will be no different for the pair.

    Keep an eye on them!

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Tour News

Tiger Woods fires second-round 76, will miss Genesis Open cut



Tiger Woods’ trip to Los Angeles is over sooner than he’d hoped. Woods fired a 5-over 76 during the second round of the Genesis Open to miss the presumed cut at Riviera by four strokes (the second round won’t be completed until Saturday morning due to darkness).

Hopes were high Woods would continue to build on a T-23 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, as the driving woes that plagued him at Torrey Pines followed him to the Riv, despite changing shafts in his TaylorMade M3.


Wayward off the tee, Woods made eight bogeys Friday, unable to grind out a decent score as he did with his opening-round 1-over 72. He was unable to rely on his putter the way did in this first round, three-putting back-to-back holes (No. 11 and 12). A stretch of three straight bogeys sunk Woods’ hopes of hanging around for the weekend.


We won’t have to wait long to see the Big Cat back in action, however, as Woods committed to next week’s Honda Classic at PGA National in Florida. Woods most recently put a peg in the ground at the course in 2014, where he ultimately withdrew due to back spasms.

The 79-time PGA Tour winner hasn’t teed it in back-to-back weeks since 2015, so while fans may not be encouraged by his play, at least he continues to be free from any issues with his surgically repaired back.

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Tour News

Tiger Woods shoots an opening-round 72 (1-over) at the 2018 Genesis Open



After hitting just 17 fairways all week at the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open, where he finished T23, Tiger Woods switched driver shafts and added 0.75 degrees of loft in his TaylorMade M3 driver ahead of the 2018 Genesis Open this week. He went from using a Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 70TX shaft, to a Matrix TP6HDe shaft — he used a TP7HDe shaft back in 2015.

So how did the switch work out for him at Riviera CC on Thursday?

Well, he hit driver 9 times during his round of 72 strokes; four went right — one of which got lost in a tree and he had to re-tee — one went left, and four found the fairway. He hit 8-of-14 fairways in total; no Fred Funk, but an improvement. Woods’ bigger issue on Thursday, actually, was that he hit only 7 greens in regulation, leaving himself a few tricky up-and-downs. Despite hitting only 38 percent of greens, Woods managed to make 5 birdies, and he continues displaying prowess on the greens (1.784 Strokes Gained Putting, and 82 feet worth of putts made).

He also showed some flashes of old Tiger with Arnie-esque follow through.

Of course, that means he missed the fairway way right, and he did go onto bogey the hole, but the shot made for some excitement on golf twitter, at least.

According to @RandallMellGC, Tiger described his round in a post-round interview: “I fought hard. I made a few simple, silly mistakes, bad shots here and there, missed on the wrong side, made a few birdies as well. 1-over’s not bad.”

Yea, that’s about right.

Tiger currently sits at T66, and six shots off the leader. Lots of golf to play, but he’ll likely be contending with the cutline come Friday afternoon. How do you think Tiger will finish this week at the 2018 Genesis Open?

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Tour News

Bill Haas injured in fatal car crash in Los Angeles



Bill Haas was involved in a fatal car crash in Pacific Palisades, Calif., site of the Genesis Open, Tuesday night.

The 35-year-old was riding in the passenger seat of a Ferrari driven by a member of the family with whom Haas is staying this week. According to LA County fire officials, the Ferrari collided with a BMW driven by a 50-year-old woman. Haas and the driver of the BMW were transported to a local hospital. The 71-year-old male driver of the Ferrari was pronounced dead on the scene.

The Ferrari also reportedly “clipped” a vehicle driven by actor Luke Wilson prior to the rollover. Wilson was not injured, per a police report.

Per, Bill Haas’ manager, Allen Hobbs of Players Group Management, released the following statement Wednesday morning.

“Last night in Pacific Palisades, California, Bill Haas was involved in a serious car accident in which the driver—a member of the family with whom Haas and his family were staying for the Genesis Open—was killed. While Bill escaped serious injuries and has been released from the hospital, he is understandably shaken up and—more importantly—his deepest condolences go out to the host family during this tragic and difficult time.“

“Bill will withdraw from the Genesis Open and plans to head home to Greenville to recover. He appreciates the support of friends, family and the golf world as a whole, and he has asked for privacy as he processes what has happened.“

Geoff Shackelford tweeted this video of the KTLA coverage of the crash.

Bill Haas’ father, Jay, spoke with Todd Lewis on Golf Channel’s morning drive earlier in the day, saying his son was “very fortunate.” Beyond swelling in one of his legs and pain, Haas sustained no serious injuries, according to his father.

See the discussion in the forums here

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19th Hole