Golf News for Friday, January 7, 2011 | Tournaments

52nd Bob Hope Classic receives early commitments from top players

LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Defending Bob Hope Classic champion Bill Haas, leading 2010 PGA TOUR money winner and 2010 FedExCup playoff runner-up Matt Kuchar, 2009 British Open champion Stewart Cink and 2007 Bob Hope Classic champion Charley Hoffman, who finished fourth in the FedExCup Playoff standings, have submitted early commitments to be among the 128 PGA TOUR professionals playing in the 52nd Bob Hope Classic, Jan. 17-23.

Besides Haas, Kuchar and Hoffman, seven other PGA TOUR champions from 2010 - Bubba Watson, Ryan Palmer, Heath Slocum, Bill Lunde, Derek Lamely, Matt Bettencourt and Cameron Beckman - are expected to play the Bob Hope Classic. Watson and Kuchar tied for second place at last year's Bob Hope Classic, finishing one shot back of Haas' 30-under-par 330 total.

Haas won his first PGA TOUR title at the 2010 Bob Hope Classic and was one of seven golfers to win multiple PGA TOUR events in 2010. Kuchar and Hoffman won 2010 FedExCup Playoff events at The Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship, respectively.

The early field includes four 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup players in Kuchar, Cink, Watson and Jeff Overton, and eight players who finished in the top 30 of the 2010 FedExCup playoff standings - Kuchar, Hoffman, Watson, Palmer, Kevin Streelman, Kevin Na, Overton and Bo Van Pelt.

Former Bob Hope Classic champions who have given early commitments to return to the Coachella Valley include Haas, Hoffman, Chad Campbell (2006 Classic champion), Justin Leonard (2005), Joe Durant (2001; set the Classic's 90-hole tournament record at 36-under-par 324), Jesper Parnevik (2000) and Mark Brooks (1996).

Other notable pros comprising the Classic's early field are 13-time PGA TOUR champ and 1989 British Open winner Mark Calcavecchia and eight-time PGA TOUR winner and 1998 U.S. Open champ Lee Janzen. For the second consecutive year, the $5 million Bob Hope Classic will be played wholly within La Quinta, at La Quinta Country Club, SilverRock Resort, and the Palmer and Nicklaus Private Courses at PGA WEST.

Celebrity participants scheduled to play in the first four rounds (72 holes) of the Bob Hope Classic, a desert tradition since 1960, include: musicians Alice Cooper, Tommy Thayer (KISS guitarist), Steve Cropper, Steve Azar and Don Felder (formerly of The Eagles), country music singer Pat Green, actors Kurt Russell, William Devane, Craig T. Nelson (Parenthood), Rob Morrow (Numb3ers, Northern Exposure), Peter Gallagher (Covert Action, The OC, Mr. Deeds), Scott Wolf (V, Party of Five), Joel Gretsch (V) and Jerry Ferrara (Entourage), Tony Dovolani (Dancing with the Stars), Nigel Lythgoe (So You Think You Can Dance, American Idol producer), actors/comedians Kevin Nealon (Saturday Night Live, Happy Gilmore, Weeds) and Gary Valentine (The King of Queens), actor/comedian/game show host John O'Hurley, comedians Tom Dreesen and Ron White, Tampa Bay Rays All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria, four-time Cy Young Award winner, 355-game winning pitcher and future Baseball Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, former National Football League and Major League Baseball star Bo Jackson, NFL career rushing leader, three-time Super Bowl champion and "Dancing With the Stars" winner Emmitt Smith, former NFL MVP and Super Bowl-winning running back and NFL Network analyst Marshall Faulk, NFL Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith, former Green Bay Packers wide receiver and NFL Network analyst Sterling Sharpe, former NFL wide receiver Willie Gault, Basketball Hall of Famer and retired San Antonio Spurs star George "The Iceman" Gervin, American figure skating legend Scott Hamilton, retired Indycar driver and 1985 Indianapolis 500 winner Danny Sullivan, sports broadcaster Ann Liguori, and television news personality Bret Baier.

Dreesen will make his 17th consecutive Bob Hope Classic appearance and 20th overall, joining Bob Hope, Andy Williams, Glen Campbell, Johnny Bench, Gerald Ford, Gary Morton and Lawrence Welk as the Classic's only celebrities to play 20 years. Dreesen has the longest active playing streak in the Classic among celebrities. Cropper, Green, Morrow, Gallagher, Wolf, Ferrara, Dovolani, Lythgoe, Gault, Gervin, Sullivan, Liguori and Baier are scheduled to make their Classic debuts in the celebrity golfing field.

The celebrity field's schedule is as follows: Wednesday, Jan. 19, SilverRock Resort; Thursday, Jan. 20, La Quinta Country Club; Friday, Jan. 21, Nicklaus Private at PGA WEST; Saturday, Jan. 22, Arnold Palmer Private at PGA WEST.

Practice rounds for the 2011 Classic at all four courses will be conducted Monday, Jan. 17 and Tuesday, Jan. 18. Tournament play begins Wednesday, Jan. 19 and concludes Sunday, Jan. 23 at the Palmer Private Course at PGA WEST.

The Bob Hope Classic's website, www.bobhopeclassic.com, is one online platform by which fans can more easily gain information about, and purchase tickets for the 2011 Classic. Fans can also log onto Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/BobHopeClassic) and Twitter (@bobhopeclassic) to keep up on pre-tournament and tournament week news, see exclusive celebrity photos, and enter various contests for the chance to win Bob Hope Classic tickets and other tournament prizes.

In 51 years, the Classic has donated nearly $49 million to charities throughout the Coachella Valley. For tickets and more information, go to www.bobhopeclassic.com or call 1.888.MRBHOPE (672.4673).