LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Led by local product and world No. 9 Anthony Kim and past champions Justin Leonard, Mike Weir, D.J. Trahan and Chad Campbell, along with Ryuji Imada, Steve Stricker, Kevin Sutherland, Stephen Ames and Ken Duke, the pro field is set for the 50th Bob Hope Classic hosted by Arnold Palmer, Jan. 19-25.
Kim, a La Quinta High School graduate, is among the top new stars on the PGA TOUR. He finished sixth on the Tour money list in 2008 with two wins and eight top 10s. Leonard (the 2005 champion, who was 10th on the money list last year), Weir (2003/14th) and Campbell (2006/24th) join Imada (13th), Sutherland (18th), Stricker (23rd), Ames (27th) and Duke (28th) in pursuing defending champion Trahan (26th), who chased down and defeated Leonard by three strokes last year. Other past champions in the field: Mark Brooks (1996), Fred Couples (1998), Joe Durant (2001), David Duval (1999), Donnie Hammond (1986), Charley Hoffman (2007), Jesper Parnevik (2000) and Corey Pavin (1987, '91). All five days of The Classic will be televised on Golf Channel. At stake is a purse of $5.1 million, $918,000 to the winner. The five-day Classic features 128 PGA TOUR professionals and 384 amateur contestants, including a stellar list of 30 celebrities.
Celebrity participants for the Classic, a desert tradition since 1960: former Major League Baseball and National Football League standout Bo Jackson; 13-time Pro Bowler and all-time leading NFL scorer Jerry Rice; Tampa Bay Rays third baseman and 2008 American League Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria; Olympic skier Toby Dawson; famed musicians Huey Lewis, Stephen Stills, Michael Bolton, Alice Cooper, Don Felder (formerly of the Eagles), Josh Kelley and country singer Clay Walker; actors Kurt Russell, Chris O'Donnell, Thomas Gibson, Oliver Hudson, Jeffrey Donovan, William Devane, Joel Gretsch, Michael Pena and Bruce McGill; actor/comedian Kevin Nealon; actor/game show host John O'Hurley; timeless New York Yankees baseball legend Yogi Berra; comedian Tom Dreesen; NFL Hall of Fame quarterback and sportscaster Dan Fouts; Hall of Fame sportscaster Keith Jackson; Cleveland Browns quarterback Derek Anderson; former Green Bay Packers wide receiver and NFL analyst Sterling Sharpe; television financial host Joe Kernen; and former Vice President Dan Quayle. The celebrity field's schedule is as follows: Wednesday, Jan. 21, SilverRock Resort; Thursday, Jan. 22, Bermuda Dunes Country Club; Friday, Jan. 23, Nicklaus Private at PGA WEST; Saturday, Jan. 24, Arnold Palmer Private at PGA WEST.
Palmer, a sports and Coachella Valley icon, played in the tournament 42 of its 50 years and is the only five-time champion, winning the inaugural tournament in 1960 and again in 1962, '68, '71 and '73. He won a total of 62 PGA TOUR titles, his last coming at the Hope.
As it celebrates its 50th anniversary tournament, the Bob Hope Classic's host course will be the Palmer Private at PGA West. Other courses in the 2009 rotation include Bermuda Dunes Country Club, an original tournament course, La Quinta's SilverRock Resort, which debuted in 2008, and the Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West, in the rotation for the first time.
In 49 years, the tournament has donated more than $47 million to charities throughout the Coachella Valley. Tickets are only $25 per day, with several packages offering additional savings. For more information, go to www.bhcc.com or call 1.888.MRBHOPE (672.4673).
Pat Bennett, 760-346-8184
Toby Zwikel, 818-462-5599