First Look: Humana Challenge
January 16, 2015
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- January 16, 2015
- Defending champion Patrick Reed is part of an outstanding field headed to PGA West. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
• COURSE: Palmer Private at PGA West, 6,950 yards, par 72. A mainstay going back nearly three decades to the old Bob Hope Classic, Palmer Private has been the tournament’s host course since 2001 except for a three-year lull from 2006-08. The Arnold Palmer creation opened in 1986 as the second of now six courses on the sprawling PGA West development, best distinguished by a strong closing stretch carved around the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains. The Humana’s pro-am format also will utilize 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 $56 million to build and maintain Eisenhower Medical Center and branch out to other Coachella Valley charities. This year, 40 local nonprofit organizations will share in proceeds.
• FIELD WATCH: Defending champion Patrick Reed, who began 2015 by winning the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, is joined by two-time champ Phil Mickelson and reigning FedExCup king Billy Horschel for the year’s first stop on the U.S. mainland. … Matt Kuchar, at No. 11, is the highest ranked among seven players in the top 25 of the world rankings. … Former world No. 1 Luke Donald comes to Humana for the first time, part of a stronger European presence along with Paul Casey, Francesco Molinari and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño. … Sam Saunders, Palmer’s grandson, makes his fourth start in the event.
• 72-HOLE RECORD: 260, Patrick Reed (2014). Note: Steve Stricker shot 255 during 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: Reed went wire-to-wire for his second career victory, throwing down a 63 on each course during the first three days before holding off Ryan Palmer’s closing challenge. Reed’s 27-under par aggregate through 54 holes was a PGA TOUR record, giving him a seven-shot lead entering the final day – only to see his putting stroke go cold. Other than an 18-foot birdie at No. 15 that essentially sealed the outcome, he made nothing longer than five feet on the way to a closing 71. Palmer shot up the ranks with a closing 63, including a 15-foot eagle at No. 18, and defending champ Zach Johnson’s 62 was good for third with Justin Leonard.
• STORYLINES: Reed is joined by three others seeking to become the season’s first two-time winner. Ryan Moore (CIMB Classic), Nick Taylor (Sanderson Farms Championship) and Charley Hoffman (OHL Classic) won during last fall’s opening stretch. … Mickelson is set for his first start since last year’s Ryder Cup, looking to recapture some West Coast magic after his first winless campaign since 2003. … Jarrod Lyle, in comeback mode after beating back leukemia a second time, makes his first start of 2015. He made the cut in two fall events and ended 2014 by placing 25th at the Australian PGA.
• SHORT CHIPS: No stopping yet for Heath Slocum and Nicholas Thompson, who both have yet to miss a start this season for which they are eligible. Humana will be their eighth appearance of 2014-15. … The Health Matters Summit, co-sponsored by Humana and the Clinton Foundation, is back for a fourth year although this edition begins on the tournament’s final day. Former president Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton headline a docket that focuses on healthy lifestyles and economics.
• TELEVISION: Thursday-Sunday, 3-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel).
• RADIO: Thursday-Sunday, 1-7 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).