LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Mark Wilson, reigning champion of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, confirmed his commitment to play in the popular PGA TOUR golf event at PGA WEST's Palmer and Nicklaus Private Courses and La Quinta Country Club from Jan. 14-20, 2013.
Wilson, who turned 38 on Halloween, captured the 2012 Humana Challenge, an event-record first prize of $1.008 million, and the new Bob Hope Memorial Trophy with an overall score of 24-under-par 264. He held off a crowded leaderboard by sinking a 10-foot birdie putt in fading light on the final hole at the Palmer Private course at PGA WEST to complete a two-stroke win over Johnson Wagner, John Mallinger and Robert Garrigus.
Wilson, a five-time PGA TOUR winner who finished No. 30 in the FedExCup standings, set himself up for championship glory in the desert by shooting the lowest round of his PGA TOUR career - a second-round 10-under 62 at the Palmer Private course.
"It's definitely the highlight of my season," Wilson said of winning the Humana Challenge. "I keep remembering it and trying to pull the good memories from it. Of my five wins, too, it's one of the most memorable because it's the first chance that I had to have my family all there to run on the green and give me a hug when it happened, when it finished."
Recent history has shown that the Wisconsin native and Chicago-area resident is one of the PGA TOUR's faster starters during its early season. Five weeks after winning the Humana Challenge, Wilson placed third at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. In 2011, Wilson was victorious in two of his first three starts, at the Sony Open in Hawaii and the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Though born, raised and living in the Midwest, Wilson likens the Humana Challenge to a home event of sorts, given its Coachella Valley locale.
"My in‑laws have a place there, so we kind of use the Palm Springs area as our home base … that's kind of where I practice for weeks off, say, in January and February," Wilson said. "I've played many tournament rounds after sleeping in their beds because I did Q‑school there many times. I've played the Humana Challenge numerous times. So I just love the area. It's a nice way to start the year."
The 2013 Humana Challenge is a four-round, 72-hole event which features an expanded field of 156 PGA TOUR professionals and 156 amateurs, including celebrities. The first three rounds of the four-day tournament will be played in a pro-am format, with the pro-am teams consisting of one professional and one amateur playing in groups of four. Round four will feature professionals only.
The Humana Challenge, which continues to honor and celebrate the legacy of Bob Hope, was named 2012 Sports Event of the Year by Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily. One of Wilson's prevailing memories from January's Humana Challenge was meeting President Clinton.
Said Wilson: "He called me (after I won) and left a message on my phone, which I've saved. He just said, 'Well done, congratulations, so proud of you, and looking forward to getting together with you and your wife down the road.'
"I went to the (gathering) on Wednesday (of tournament week). Basically it was a chance to meet (President Clinton) and shake his hand and (for him to) talk with each of us for a minute. What really got me was that I introduced my wife to him, and he recognized her name on the spot, that he read a quote of hers in the paper. She's the president of the PGA TOUR Wives' Association. I was just floored. Everyone he talks to, he always seems to treat them like they're his best friend at that moment, and he remembers names. There had to have been 25 TOUR players there, and I think we all walked away from it thinking, 'Bill Clinton really made me feel important. He really knows my name.' "
Tickets (beginning at $30 with advance purchase), event and volunteer information, and registration information for the Jan. 14 Couples Challenge Pro-Am and Jan. 16 Bob Hope Legacy Pro-Am is available online at www.HumanaChallenge.com. Fans can subscribe to the Humana Challenge's monthly eNewsletter on the website and connect to the tournament's sites on Facebook (www.facebook.com/HumanaChallenge) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/HumanaChallenge/@HumanaChallenge).
During the past 53 years, the Humana Challenge has generated more than $52 million in donations to charities in the Coachella Valley, primarily the Eisenhower Medical Center.
About Humana Inc.
Humana Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the nation's largest publicly traded health and supplemental benefits companies, with approximately 10.2 million medical members, 7.1 million specialty members, and operates more than 300 medical centers and 240 worksite medical facilities. Humana is a full-service benefits and well-being solutions company, offering a wide array of health, pharmacy and supplemental benefit plans for employer groups, government programs and individuals, as well as primary and workplace care through its medical centers and worksite medical facilities. Over its 50-year history, Humana has consistently seized opportunities to meet changing customer needs. Today, the company is a leader in consumer engagement, providing guidance that leads to lower costs and a better health plan experience throughout its diversified customer portfolio. More information regarding Humana is available at www.humana.com.
About the William J. Clinton Foundation
Building on a lifetime of public service, President Bill Clinton established the William J. Clinton Foundation with the mission to alleviate poverty, improve global health, strengthen economies, and protect the environment, by fostering partnerships among governments, businesses, nongovernmental organizations, and private citizens — leveraging their expertise, resources, and passions — to turn good intentions into measurable results.
To accomplish its goals, the Clinton Foundation has established separate initiatives, each with a distinct mission but all reflecting President Clinton's founding vision: to implement sustainable programs that improve access worldwide to investment, opportunity, and lifesaving services now and for future generations. Working in diverse geographic regions and responding to local needs, the initiatives address targeted challenges in the Foundation's key areas of focus: economic empowerment, education, environment and energy, health systems, and nutrition.
The Clinton Global Initiative brings together a community of leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing issues. Through strategic organization and investment, the Clinton Foundation strives to change global systems, entire communities, and the way business is done in both developed and developing countries - while emphasizing solutions that make meaningful and positive changes in individual lives. For more information, visit www.clintonfoundation.org.
Since its inception, Desert Classic Charities, the charitable entity that organizes the Humana Challenge, has contributed more than $52 million to the Eisenhower Medical Center and surrounding Coachella Valley nonprofit organizations. Its scope of giving is broad and includes structured and mentoring programs for children, social services, and food and safe shelter for the less fortunate. Desert Classic Charities is dedicated to continuing its mission to serve human needs in the Coachella Valley and beyond by generating funds and opportunities through the Humana Challenge.
About PGA TOUR
The PGA TOUR is the world's premier membership organization for touring professional golfers, co-sanctioning more than 100 tournaments on the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour. The PGA TOUR's mission is to entertain and inspire its fans, deliver substantial value to its partners, create outlets for volunteers to give back, generate significant charitable and economic impact in communities in which it plays, and provide financial opportunities for TOUR players.