SilverRock Resort in La Quinta: PGA's Humana has left, but hope lives on

By Travel ArticlesMarch 2, 2012, 5:00 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Men's pro golf in the Coachella Valley has proven a fickle beast. The vast history of what's now the Humana Challenge (still better known as the 'Bob Hope') stretches back to a genesis tournament in the early 1950s. Over six decades of play, the list of courses used to host various incarnations of the event tallies a dozen in number.

When the Humana pared down to a rotation of three courses (and four days) in 2012, the latest track to become a 'former' PGA Tour course was the Arnold Palmer-designed SilverRock Resort. Myriad Tour pros (whether privately or on record) were disappointed to hear of the track's exclusion, the most notable of which was 2011 Hope runner-up Gary Woodland who declined to play in the '12 event specifically due to SilverRock's removal.

But like resilient desert foliage, SilverRock plays on -- and continues doing so in a big way.

'I think the changes to the tournament and the new format were good,' said SilverRock Head Professional James Saenz. 'There was some disappointment to not being in the new format, but we completely understand why they made the changes they did. But overall, having our facility open that week was probably far more beneficial to us fiscally. We had a ton of play that week.'

If you are placing tee into turf, remember SilverRock offers one of the area's most inspired and demanding canvasses of golf. And at nearly 7,600 yards from the tips, it's also one of the longest in Southern California.

SilverRock Resort: Know your distance

One cannot survive at SilverRock on distance alone. Though the landing areas are often generous, the first-timer will experience some nuance off the tee. While 10 holes chart at 418 yards or better, a solid drive still requires study. Of the 200 acres of golf property, a quarter of the land is sculpted around native areas.

Translation: Examine the modern GPS mapping well.

Finding the fairway at SilverRock doesn't segue to easy scoring chances. Every green is armed with protection, and those playing bailouts will oft-encounter a thick second-cut or a potentially penal chip sporting danger across the green.

'Even the greens that don't seem to be guarded probably are,' said Sanez. 'All the greens have some sort of bunkering around them -- or a lake. When people ask for advice, the main thing I tell them is to club-up. You can play the golf course past the green, but it's really difficult short of the green because of the swales and the bunkering.'

Adding to the call for learned distance and demand for accuracy is the canal running through the back side.

'The length, especially on the back, is a defining feature. That's where the challenge begins,' Saenz said. 'The par 5 on No. 12 is a good example of all of it. It's a tough lay-up. If you start cheating to the right, you can go into the canal, which runs diagonally across. And the more you try to cut off to the left, you can go right into the lake.'

As SilverRock winds you home against the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains, the finishing holes serve as a mental test to see if the learned player has taken notes about clubbing long.

'On No. 16, there's an area behind the green where if you roll past or you're long, it's much easier,' Sanez said of the 488-yard par 4. 'And on the par-3 17th, there's the lake in front, but if you play long, there's a lot of grass back there that will catch your ball. The hole can also play into the wind. I found that putting the hybrid in my bag makes that one a little easier to play.'

The 570-yard, par-5 18th proves an excellent finishing hole with the canal running through the deep fairway, coupled with water to the front left of the green and bunkering to all sides of the putting surface. It's as if The King crafted one last court to provide the player a worthy crown -- or jester's cap.

SilverRock Resort: The verdict

'I thought the course was great, really beautiful,' said Bob Perkins of Seattle. 'It was in great shape and with lots of sand to deal with. We've played a few other courses out here, but this has been the prettiest.'

Many visitors to the Palm Springs area slate their golf getaway with tee times across the desert. But SilverRock is a course you'll want to play twice.

With added course knowledge, the track will play far more favorably, and the brilliant surrounds will prove all the more rewarding.

Full practice facility is offered, and on-site instruction is available to players of all levels. Tip: Arrive early and make use of the practice bunkering.

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DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

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Hot Seat: Rory jumps into the fire early

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 2:11 pm

The world’s top tours head to desert regions this week, perfect locales for The Hot Seat, the gauge upon which we measure the level of heat the game’s top personalities are facing ...

Sahara sizzle: Rory McIlroy

McIlroy won’t have to look far to see how his form measures up to world No. 1 Dustin Johnson at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

McIlroy will make his 2018 debut with Johnson in his face, literally.

McIlroy will be grouped with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood in the first two rounds.

Players like to downplay pairings early in a tournament, but it’s hard to believe McIlroy and Johnson won’t be trying to send each other messages in this European Tour event in the United Arab Emirates. That’s the alpha-dog nature of world-class players looking to protect their turf, or in the case of McIlroy, take back his turf.

“When you are at the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Trevor Immelman said about pairings during Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge last month.

And that was an offseason event.

“They want to show this guy, ‘This is what I got,’” Immelman said.

As early season matchups go, Abu Dhabi is a heavyweight pairing that ought to be fun.

So there will be no easing into the new year for McIlroy after taking off the last three months to regroup from the stubborn rib injury that plagued him last season. He is coming off a winless year, and he will be doing so alongside a guy who just won the first PGA Tour event of 2018 in an eight-shot rout. Johnson’s victory in Hawaii two weeks ago was his fifth since McIlroy last won.

“Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place, and that was because of where I was physically,” McIlroy said of 2017. “I feel prepared now. I feel ready, and I feel ready to challenge. I feel really good about where I’m at with my health. I’ve put all that behind me, which has been great.”

Sonoran Smolder: Phil Mickelson

Mickelson will turn 48 this summer.

His world ranking is sliding, down to No. 43 now, which is the lowest he has ranked in 24 years.

It’s been more than four years since he last won, making him 0 for his last 92 starts.

There’s motivation in all of that for Mickelson. He makes his 2018 debut at the CareerBuilder Challenge in the Palm Springs area this week talking like a man on a renewed mission.

There’s a Ryder Cup team to make this season, which would be his 12th straight, and there’s a career Grand Slam to claim, with the U.S. Open returning to Shinnecock Hills, where Mickelson finished second in ’04.

While Mickelson may not feel old, there are so many young stars standing in his way that it’s hard not to be constantly reminded that time isn’t on his side in these events anymore.

There has only been one player in the history of the game to win a major championship who was older than Mickelson is right now. Julius Boros won the PGA Championship when he was 48 back in 1968.

Campaign fever: Jordan Spieth

Spieth’s respect in the game’s ranks extends outside the ropes.

He was just selected to run for the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council’s chairman position. He is facing Billy Hurley III in an election to see who will succeed Davis Love III on the Tour’s Policy Board next year.

Spieth, just 24, has already made Time Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People.” He made that back in 2016, with the magazine writing that “he exemplifies everything that’s great about sports.” Sounds like a campaign slogan.

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CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.

Notables in the field

Phil Mickelson

* This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

* For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

* He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

* This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.

Jon Rahm

* Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

* In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

* Last year he finished T-34 in this event.

Adam Hadwin

* Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

* In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Brian Harman

* Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

* Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

* Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Brandt Snedeker

* Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

* This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

* Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.

Patrick Reed

* Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

* This is his first start of 2018.

* Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)