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PGA Tour preview: Humana Challenge

Preview – PGA Tour – The Humana Challenge – PGA West Palmer Course (host) – La Quinta, CA

The PGA Tour’s Humana Challenge, formerly the Bob Hope Classic, tees off Thursday with several high-profile players making their 2015 debut including  Phil Mickelson, Keegan Bradley, Brandt Snedeker and Jason Dufner.

The annual fan-favorite tradition – now hosted by former President Bill Clinton – is a feel-good event pairing professional golfers with celebrities from television, film, and music.

For the professionals, it’s the first tournament on the mainland and the start of the West Coast Swing. Utilizing three courses and featuring a Saturday cut, the event host course is PGA West Arnold Palmer. PGA West Jack Nicklaus and La Quinta Country Club are also in the rotation with all three courses playing to par 72s and around 7,000 yards.

Since 2005, the tournament has produced a mix of champions with different approaches to the game including Justin Leonard (2005), Chad Campbell (2006), Charley Hoffman (2007), D.J. Trahan (2008) and Pat Perez (2009), Bill Haas (2010) and Jhonattan Vegas (2011). Mark Wilson won the title in 2013 and Brian Gay in 2013.

Look for low scores – an annual traditional in the Palm Springs/Coachella Valley. Last year’s cut line was 9-under. The last time a player shot a round over par and won the title was in 1992. The tournament dates back to 1960 when Arnold Palmer captured the victory.

Golf Channel has the television coverage all week.

2014recap:

  • Patrick Reed (28-under) held on to capture the victory after opening with rounds of 63-63-63. He beat out Ryan Palmer, who shot 63 on the final day, by two shots. Zach Johnson and Leonard were T-3 at 25-under. Zach fired 62 on Sunday. Bill Haas, Brendon Todd and Brian Stuard logged Top 10s.

FANTASY:  Consider Haas, who won here in 2010 and lost in a three-man playoff in 2011. The former FedEx Cup champion is third all-time in earnings here. He also has a run of 17 straight cuts made heading into Humana. Webb Simpson appears to be in form with the short putter. He was a co-leader after the first and second round last week. Take Hoffman, who has four Top 10s here and two straight. 

BETTING:  According to www.skybet.com, Reed is outright betting favorite to repeat here at 12-to-1 Desert golf takes center stage this weekodds. He is coming off a victory at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in a playoff on Maui two weeks ago. Take Palmer (at 20-1). He was runner-up last year and has three Top 6s since 2011 at the Humana. Consider Harris English and his length as a longer shot at 28-1. He finished strong a week ago at the Sony Open.

Other Golf News:

  • World Golf Hall of Fame member Jack Nicklaus, the all-time leader in men’s golf with 18 major titles, turned 75 years old Wednesday.
  • Oliver Fisher posted a 7-under-65 to take the opening round lead at the European Tour’s CommercialBank Qatar Masters. Fisher, ranked 206th in the world, came in as a 100-1 long shot to win the title. A host of players are just two back at T-3 including Ernie Els, Paul Lawire and Branden Grace, who won earlier this season.
  • Els posted a bogey-free opening round Thursday at Doha Golf Club. He was 3-for-3 in Scrambling. The World Golf Hall of Fame member sits No. 60 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He went off as a 50-1 betting pick this week.