I would like to welcome everyone to the 2012 edition of the Humana Challenge. This week the Tour makes a stop in California at an event that always sees plenty of birdies made. The event has previously been associated with Bob Hope, but has now moved partnerships to be with the Clinton Foundation. The tournament has also gone from a 90-hole marathon to the regular 72-hole style the PGA Tour players are accustomed to playing. Though the name, charity and format may have changed, I can assure everyone the scoring will continue to be on the verge of ridiculous. Let’s take a closer look at the courses the players will be piling up the birdies on.
The Humana Challenge Courses
PGA WEST (Nicklaus)
This Nicklaus designed golf course features elegant beauty and plenty of birdie and eagle holes. Measuring only 6951 yards in length and a Par 72, PGA West offers plenty of excitement for the fans and players. This course features plenty of reachable Par 5s, a Par 3 that you will probably see a hole in one on (number 7), and 4 water hazards that will come into play. Jack Nicklaus is one of the world’s best course designers, and although this is not one of his most challenging, it is extremely entertaining.
PGA WEST (Palmer)
Arnold Palmer designed this course and it will be played by all players for 2 rounds this week (with everyone playing it on Sunday). The PGA WEST Palmer course is 6930 yards and plays as a Par 72. The course record on this short but interesting track is a sizzling 59, shot by David Duval in 1999. This course ranks as one of the easiest played in each year, along with its partner in crime PGA WEST (Nicklaus),
If you would like to watch plenty of eagles, set up at number 2 on the PGA WEST (Palmer) course. This hole ranked as the easiest hole on the course last year as the Par 5 measures only 514 yards. Even the Tours shorter hitters will be on this green putting for eagles.
La Quinta CC
If you would like to walk one of these 3 courses and just enjoy the beauty, this is the one to choose. La Quinta CC is lined with vegetation that ranges from rose bushes to tropical banana trees. The course plays as a Par 72 like the others on this circuit, but is the longest measuring 7060. Though this is not long at all by PGA standards, La Quinta gives the players very long Par 3s, to go along with shorter Par 4s and 5s.
The courses shortest Par 3 is the 7th hole, measuring only 168 yards. What the hole lacks in distance, it makes up for in scenery. In 1999 an amazing waterfall was added to this gem of a hole, funnelling into a pond in front of the green. Look for some players to choose the wrong club here, possibly going into the water, especially if any wind picks up. Overall a very fun hole to watch and play.
Things to watch for this week
Ideal Scoring Conditions – Players will have the opportunity to go very low once again this week. The courses played this week are not very difficult, with past winners being around -24 through four rounds. The players will also be blessed once again with perfect weather conditions, with sun and very little wind throughout the tournament. I can assure you that a player or two will come close to or achieve a 59 this week. ((Course records – (PGA WEST – Nicklaus – 59)(PGA WEST – Palmer – 61)(La Quinta CC – 61)
The Rookie influence – We saw last week just how talented this years crop of rookies are. Russell Henley not only won the event but also etched his name into the PGA Record books. He set the record winning score at the Sony Open (by 4 shots) and also posted the 2nd lowest 72 hole tournament score ever in PGA Tour history. He also gave all the web.com Tour graduates some added confidence, though I really don’t think they needed any. Once again we will get to witness the likes of Russell Henley, Morgan Hoffman, Scott Langley and Luke Guthrie.
The return of Phil Mickelson – Mickelson is set to play his 1st PGA Tour event of the season this week. Phil is always one of the largest attractions and when he tees it up in California that is amplified (born and currently resides there). I don’t expect Phil to win this week but I do feel he will have a big year, and contend in at least one major.
Steve’s Humana Challenge Six Pack System Picks
The 6-pack system picks are sent to members of www.GolfBanker.com only, but I will include one free pick for you below…
PAT PEREZ 45 TO 1 – Pat got off to a terrific start last week at the Sony Open when he finished in a tie for 9th place. I have noticed that multiple sources are talking about Perez having an excellent chance of winning this week. I feel this hype is warranted due to his current form and solid history at the Humana Challenge. Last season he finished T14 here, and could have won if it weren’t for a 3rd round 74. This tournament is also the place of Pat’s only PGA Tour victory, occurring in 2009 while it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He should be able to utilize some of his great memories on these course to vault him into contention for his 2nd Tour victory this week. I also like that Perez is a good driver of the golf ball (37th in Total Driving) and makes plenty of birdies (23rd in birdie average).