By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
The start of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation is still two weeks away but it already looks like the tournament will have its best field in years.
Two-time champ Phil Mickelson, who will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in May, announced Friday that he will be returning to the California desert for the first time since 2007. He's joining Greg Norman, another Hall of Famer, who also committed this week.
The Humana Challenge will be held Jan. 19-22. The tournament has been reduced from 90 to 72 holes and the $5.6 million event will be played at La Quinta Country Club and the Palmer and Nicklaus Private Courses at PGA West.
Mickelson won the tournament, previously known as the Bob Hope Classic, in 2002 and 2004, both times in a playoff. He's the only player to have won more than $2 million at the event and that came in just seven starts as a professional.
“I’m honored to join President Clinton and the Clinton Foundation for the Humana Challenge,” Mickelson said. “I admire President Clinton and the charitable work of his Foundation, which helps millions of people around the world, and I applaud him for joining Humana in using the tournament to help promote health and wellness. Some of my best seasons have come after starting at this event and I’m really excited about coming back again.”
Norman, who turns 57 next month, also cited Clinton's involvement as a factor in his decision to return to the tournament for the first time since 1986. The two-time British Open champion most recently served his second term as captain of the International Team for the Presidents Cup.
"After a conversation with President Clinton, and also with my good friend Scott McCarron's encouragement, I'm all too happy to support President Clinton's commitment to the Humana Challenge and his Foundation," Norman said. "I'm confident with the recent changes to the tournament's sponsorship and format, and with the support President Clinton will give, this event, which has been one of the most iconic tournaments for decades, will once again establish itself as one of `the' tournaments to play in."
Other early commitments include defending champion Jhonattan Vegas; 2011 FedExCup champion Bill Haas, who won the Humana Challenge in 2010, and other past Humana champs Pat Perez, Charley Hoffman, Chad Campbell, Justin Leonard, Steve Jones and Mark Brooks.