Previews and pre-event analysis from Golf Betting System's PGA Tour and European Tour coverage
To read Steve Bamford's Humana Challenge Tips for 2014 click here. Follow Steve on twitter: @bamfordgolf
The Humana Challenge in the 3rd week of January is the first PGA Tour season tournament of the new year to be played on mainland United States soil. This tournament formerly named the Bob Hope Classic has seen a recent up surge in status and associated field strength with a number of changes that were put into place for the 2012 tournament. Firstly the tournament now features a high profile link with the Bill Clinton Foundation and the former President attends the tournament week. From a players perspective the prize fund has now increased to the same levels as the standard PGA Tour tournaments. In addition the tournament now features 4 days / 72 holes of golf across 3 different courses as opposed to the pre 2011 format of 5 days / 90 holes across a 4 course rota.
Pro-Am Format and Tournament Scheduling
For the uninitiated the Humana Challenge follows a Pro-Am format similar to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am but with the Pro-Am format being played across the first 3 days of competition as opposed to all 72 holes as at Pebble Beach. This makes for painfully slow play which some players can't handle. In terms of scheduling the Humana Challenge sits within the West Coast Swing with the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale following on in January, book ending this PGA West hosted 'birdie fest.'
Course Rota Details
PGA West Palmer Private - Host Course Featuring 36 holes inc Sunday play
Designer: Arnold Palmer 1986 Type: Desert & Resort (low scoring) Par: 72 Length: 6,950 yards Water Hazards: 5 Fairways: Bermuda grass with Perennial Rye Rough: Tifdwarf Bermuda grass with Perennial Rye 2" Greens: 5,665 sq.ft Bermuda with Poa Trivialis Tournament Stimpmeter: 11 Ranked as the 4th easiest course across the 2012 PGA Tour and 2nd easiest in 2013.
PGA West Nicklaus Private
Designer: Jack Nicklaus 1986 Type: Desert & Resort (low scoring) Par: 72 Length: 6,924 yards Water Hazards: 4 Fairways: Bermuda grass with Perennial Rye Rough: Bermuda grass with Perennial Rye 2" Greens: 6,200 sq.ft Tifdwarf Bermuda with Poa Trivialis Tournament Stimpmeter: 10 Ranked as the easiest course across the 2012 and 2013 PGA Tours.
La Quinta Country Club
Designer: Hughes with Pascuzzo Re Design 1999 Type: Desert & Resort (low scoring) Par: 72 Length: 7,060 yards Water Hazards: 5 Fairways: Bermuda grass with Perennial Rye Rough: Bermuda grass with Perennial Rye 2" Greens: 5,000 sq.ft Tidwarf Bermuda with Poa Trivialis Tournament Stimpmeter: 11 Ranked as the 9th easiest course across the 2012 PGA Tour and 3rd easiest in 2014.
Previous Champions: 2013: Brian Gay; 2012: Mark Wilson; 2011: Jhonattan Vegas; 2010: Bill Haas; 2009: Pat Perez; 2008: D.J. Trahan; 2007: Charley Hoffman; 2006: Chad Campbell; 2005: Justin Leonard; 2004: Phil Mickelson; 2003: Mike Weir; 2002: Phil Mickelson
Winners Prices: 2013: Brian Gay - 80/1 2012: Mark Wilson - 125/1 2011: Jhonattan Vegas - 200/1 2010: Bill Haas - 100/1
Pre-Tournament Key Summary
The Humana Challenge was former the Bob Hope Classic and there is no doubt that this tournament has a lottery element to it. One glance at the winners prices above tells you a lot about what to expect and it's very understandable. The tournament is played on 3 short courses which don't overly tax PGA Tour professionals and they play as Par 72s. The Bermuda greens are receptive and the opening 56 holes feature Pro-Am pin positions. Go low or go home, it's that simple. Since 2012, when the tournament moved to a conventional 72-hole format, -24/264 and -25/263 have been typical winning totals.
Hitting as many greens as possible is key to victory here; creating then converting those eagle and birdie chances. You could argue that power players have a distinct advantage at PGA West, but ultimately the winner is the player who keeps their card as clean as possible when the miss greens.
Below we track the results of Golf Betting System PGA Tour tipster Steve Bamford who has been producing weekly tips since 2009. You can also follow him on Twitter @bamfordgolf