Your Chicago suburb resident and Sony Open Champion, Mark Wilson, decided to play this week despite his beloved Packers teeing it up against the Bears. The game will be broadcast approximately the same time they’re playing in Palm Springs so you can count Wilson out this week, his concentration will be on the oblong ball or he may miss the cut (purposely?) and have his feet hiked up in front of the screen sipping a cold beverage with a brat or two.

The Bob Hope Classic should be called the Bob Hope Shootout; the boys go really low here despite the amateur’s distractions. Each day they tee it up with three new hacks, if you’re in the Celebrity grouping the gallery doesn’t care who the pro is, but you’re firing at easy pins on relatively flat greens. Guys with great GIR stats usually do well here, hitting a green guarantees quite a few birdie putts. There are no tricks in the desert, remember Indio when reading your putts and try to enjoy your amateur partners.

Two of my four picks, Stricker and Campbell, made the cut and finished in the top 15 at Waialae. I may have to go with both of them again this week. Mild-mannered, easy-going, country boys seem to do fairly well in the desert with the glitzy crowds, attractive autograph seekers, and retirement age galleries. Arnold played here till very late in his career and his galleries were loyal despite the high scores. He’ll probably be here this week, not playing, following his grandson Sam Saunders around after the round.

Well, Steve Stricker is heading home to watch the Pack so I’m going with the following line-up:

Chad Campbell  - he hits a lot of greens and just goes with the flow.

 D.J. Trahan - a great history at the Hope and 7th PGA GIR last year. (Beat us and Justin Leonard in 2008 while in final group)

Boo Weekley – nothing bothers him, he’s slimmed down and striking his ball again. One last event before he goes home to finish Florida deer season.

Steve Marino – Easy-going, streaky player who rededicated himself in off season looking for first win. Might be a good week after finish at Sony.

Here’s my handful of long shots to watch. Keep an eye on Paul Stankowski, Joe Durant, Josh Teater and Mark Calcavecchia.

The Bob Hope Classic is always a fun watch, a great tournament to caddy despite the long rounds, and this is where golf flourished on TV years ago. Arnold Palmer with his PGA buddies, movie stars, presidents, sports heroes, and corporate CEO’s playing golf in warm desert climes during the dead of winter. There wasn’t a better showcase years ago; hopefully the new Bob Hope Classic can regain some of that glitter.


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