This week the fellas hop in the puddle jumper and leave the exotic Islands of Hawaii to head to Southern California for the Bob Hope Classic.
The Hope is the only 5-round tournament on the schedule, starting this Wednesday. Arnold Palmer won the inaugural event back in 1960, winning $12,000. Arnie would go on to win this event 4 more times in his career as well. Other greats would also add their names as past winners, names like Nicklaus, Billy Casper, Johnny Miller, Lanny Wadkins, Tom Kite, Corey Pavin, David Duval, Fred Couples, and Phil Mickelson… The Hope has also experienced its share of history, going back to 1999 when David Duval became the 3rd player ever to record a round of 59 in a PGA tournament… and then last year, when Bill Haas became the only PGA Tour player to ever win the same event as his father – Jay Haas, who won this same event back in 1988. Interestingly enough, Dad earned $180k for his effort. His son? $900k.
Sadly, the event that used to be an eager week to unite with Hollywood to have fun while promoting the game has digressed into an avoid-at-all-costs affair for most of the game’s top players over the years. Not so much a result of the occasional over-the-top shenanigans going on with their celebrity playing partners, but moreso because the players would rather travel to the cash-cow European tournament in Dubai, or simply stay home and extend their winter breaks. Personally, I think Bob Hope represented the game, albeit humorously, with class and passion. He loved the game enough to become Hollywood’s greatest ambassador, and gave us countless memories to look back on when the game seemed more approachable and less commercial. In a nutshell – I think it’s a shame that this tournament isn’t embraced more than it is currently. I think Bob Hope meant more to golf than what we’ve seen over the past several years.
My personal opinions aside, the tournament this week will (hopefully) find its share of good weather and good times. And who knows – we might see a great finish befitting of Pat Perez’s breakthrough back in 2008, or better yet – David Duval back in 1999. Double D is in the field this week, and I couldn’t think of a more fitting venue for him to get back into the winner’s circle.