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January 11 2013

6:45 PM

First Look: Humana Challenge

By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

• COURSE: Palmer Private at PGA West, 6,930 yards, par 72. Opened in 1986 as the second of now six courses on the sprawling PGA West development, Palmer Private is distinguished by a strong closing stretch along the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains. The course became part of the Bob Hope Classic’s rota in 1988, becoming host course from 2001-05 and again starting in 2009. The pro-am format also will use PGA West’s Nicklaus Private course (6,951/72) and La Quinta Country Club (7,060/72) in the first three rounds.

• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.

• CHARITY: Desert Classic Charities, which since 1960 has contributed more than $52 million to Eisenhower Medical Center and other Coachella Valley nonprofit organizations.

• FIELD WATCH: Phil Mickelson, a two-time champion, starts his season at the Humana for the second consecutive year. He’ll be joined by FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker, U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson and four other players among the top 25 in this week’s world rankings. Nine players, including Simpson and defending champion Mark Wilson, will be playing their third straight event to start 2013.

• 72-HOLE RECORD: 264, Mark Wilson (2012). Note: Steve Stricker shot 255 over the first 72 holes in 2009, when the Hope was a five-round tournament.

• 18-HOLE RECORD: 59, David Duval at Palmer Private (5th round, 1999). Nicklaus Private record: 61, Robert Garrigus (3rd round, 2012), Ryan Moore (2nd round, 2012), Charlie Wi (3rd round, 2009). La Quinta CC record: 61, Lennie Clements (3rd round, 1994).

• LAST YEAR: A marathon final day saw Wilson complete his third round with a three-shot lead, lose it three holes into the final round and eventually chase down Robert Garrigus in the fading light. High winds forced the third round to extend into Sunday, leaving Wilson and other leaders to play 21 holes. Garrigus stormed back from a poor start with 27 birdies in his final 55 holes, but a bogey at No. 17 allowed Wilson to regain the lead. Garrigus barely missed a 35-foot eagle try at the 18th, and Wilson drained a 10-foot birdie for the win.

• STORYLINES: Former president Bill Clinton, whose foundation joined with Humana to revive the tournament last year, again is scheduled to play one round of the pro-am on a day yet to be determined. Clinton, with Greg Norman as his partner, got only nine holes in last year before high winds took over. … Other celebrities in the pro-am include TV hosts Carson Daly and Ahmad Rashad, actor Craig T. Nelson, musicians Michael Bolton and Alice Cooper, baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith and former NFL standouts Eric Dickerson and Ronde Barber.

• SHORT CHIPS: Patrick Cantlay, who scored four top-25 finishes two years ago while still a UCLA freshman, will play on a sponsor exemption. Cantlay turned pro last summer and has Web.com Tour membership. … Garrigus, whose runner-up finish was one of four last season, is making his 2013 debut. … English pros Ross Fisher and David Lynn will make their debuts as PGA TOUR members. Fisher earned his card through last month’s q-school; Lynn’s nonmember earnings last year would have landed him among the top 125. … Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa, who also earned a card through nonmember earnings, begins his season as well.

• TELEVISION: Thursday-Sunday 3-7 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.

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