Once a cant miss stop the Hope struggles for big names

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2009, 5:00 pm
50th Bob Hope Chrylser ClassicLA QUINTA, Calif. ' Back when the tournament host was cracking jokes along the fairways and Arnold Palmer was winning the event with regularity, the Bob Hope Classic was a cant-miss-it stop on the Tour for most of golfs best players.
 
No longer.
 
Although the five-day tournament in the desert resort area of Southern California has thrived in many ways, drawing large galleries and donating a total of $47 million to charity over its 49 previous years, it doesnt necessarily draw the games top players any more.
 
Tiger Woods has never played in the event, a 90-hole tournament spread over four courses starting Wednesday, with the first four days a pro-am before the pros go at it alone on Sunday. Phil Mickelson has been an off-and-on entrant, winning the tournament in 2002 and 2004 and playing the following three years, but he didnt return in 2008 and isnt in the field this time.
 
The tournament never really has drawn foreign stars, and none of the top 15 players in the world rankings ' topped by Woods, and with Mickelson at No. 4 ' are in it this time. When No. 8 Anthony Kim, who played high school golf in La Quinta, withdrew Tuesday because of a sore right shoulder, that left No. 16 Steve Stricker as the highest-ranked player in the field.
 
Palmer, the inaugural Hope champion in 1960 who went on to win it four more times, was diplomatic when asked about the absence of top players in recent years, saying it was a tough question and he didnt want to get caught in a crossfire.
 
But serving as the tournament host this year for the 50th anniversary of the Hope, Palmer obviously wishes more big names would show up.
 
Its been good for all of the players, the people who are out here playing and I would just hope that they would understand that they need to support tournaments as much as they possibly can, he said Tuesday. I know that you cant play every week. But when I hear some of the reasons for not playing, it disturbs me a little. And they do need to get out and support the events.
 
I used to spread my tournament appearances so that I never missed a tournament more than two years in a row. Tournaments like the Hope, of course I played every year because I just simply enjoyed being here.
 
There are a number of factors that might influence players to pass up the Hope.
 
Many players set up their schedule for tournaments leading up to the majors, and the timing of the Hope makes it less than ideal for that purpose. Some players may not like the format, where they are paired with amateurs for the first 72 holes, including entertainment celebrities and stars from other sports and the accompanying hoopla in the galleries. Foreign players are occupied with other events around the world.
 
Justin Leonard, the 2005 Hope champion, said he likes to play the event for many reasons.
 
Its a very relaxed atmosphere, he said. Playing with the amateurs, they have always shown a lot of respect, knowing that we are here competing and this is part of our job, he said. I know how much this event means to the area and its nice to be able to come back and support it.
 
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is trying to convince players to play in more tournaments, and he liked Palmers approach of trying not to miss an event more than two years in a row.
 
We have a lot more tournaments now, but yes it would be (a good idea), Finchem said. And mixing up their schedules is what were talking about now.
 
The Hope, Finchem said, remains strong regardless.
 
I think the strength of the tournament here is that weve obviously had a good sponsor (Chrysler) for a long time and the community is invigorated and integrated into this tournament, he said.
 
Finchem noted the tournament has made major donations over the years to the Eisenhower Medical Center, and at least at this juncture, we dont see it falling off for now. Thats the good news.
 
Helping to draw fans to the courses each year is the celebrity and sports stars lineup, which this year is slated to include Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson, AL Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria of the Tampa Rays and Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, rocker Alice Cooper and actor Kurt Russell.
 
The galleries werent always as large.
 
In the early days, I knew everyone in the gallery. Well, almost, Palmer said with a grin.
 
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  • Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee: