Lefty Hope-ing for Fresh Start

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2006 Bob Hope Chrysler ClassicThere's Ray Romano, Huey Lewis, Yogi Berra, Clint Eastwood, Roger Clemens, Oscar De La Hoya and even American Idol winner Taylor Hicks. And let's not forget the new official host of the event, George Lopez.

Sure, they're big stars and all, but they'll be dwarfed by the attention paid by the one true star of this year's edition of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic: Phil Mickelson. Lefty.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson has won in his first start of the season on five different ocassions.
The three-time major winner. The owner of the now infamous quote, 'Im such an idiot.' -- his comment after his meltdown on the 72nd hole at Wingfoot.

After much has been written and debated over that last couple of months regarding him and his mental health, the 35-year-old Mickelson makes a very attention-grabbing return to the TOUR, having not played in an official PGA TOUR event since the WGC-NEC Invitational in late August.

Has he put that disaster behind him? Will he be refreshed and ready to climb back into the No. 2 spot in the world rankings?

He has too much talent not to recover,' said Golf Channel and CBS analyst Peter Oosterhuis, 'but who knows?

One would think that he would, but having not played at the end of the year, and having not played very well when he did, there are some questions he has to answer (in 2007).

These questions may or not be answered over 90 holes of golf in the desert, but perhaps more importantly is the fact that golf fans will at least get to see one of their favorite players back out on the course.

This week also marks the 2007 season debut of David Duval. It was here eight years ago that Duval became the third and, at the moment, last player to shoot a 59 on the PGA TOUR.

Duval is playing out this season by using his exempt status as a top-25 player on the career PGA TOUR money list. After making just one cut in 2005, Duval saw much improvement last season, making 11 of 24 cuts with his best finish coming at the U.S. Open, where he tied for 16th.

The Hope is a five-day event played on four different courses - Classic Club (host course), PGA West, LaQuinta CC, and Bermuda Dunes CC. The tournament has a purse of $5 million with $900,000 going to the winner.

Chad Cambell is the defending champion.

Heres our list of players to watch for ' with a twist. Instead of nominating our overall tournament favorites ' which can consist of many of the same players each week ' we will present our favorites from four different categories: Superstar (top-10 ranked player from the Official World Golf Ranking); Second Tier (guys outside the top 10, but no lower than 100); First-Timer (a player who has never won before on TOUR); Veteran (a guy who has won before, but not in some time).

Superstar
Well, this one was easy, considering the fact that Mickelson is the only player from the top-10 in the rankings teeing it up this week. He would have been the logical choice anyway due to his past success here and also because of this little nugget: five times in his career Lefty has won a title in his very first appearance of the season. His line for the last five times he's been at the Hope: Win, T6, Win, T12, T5.

Second Tier
Currently ranked 41st in the world, Lucas Glover is someone to watch for after his solid showing a year ago. It was his first time in the event and he posted a tie for 10th, one of his eight top-10 showings for the year. Seeing that this event is played over 90 holes, Glover will have plenty of opportunities to score. He was second only to Daniel Chopra in total birdies last season.

First-Timer
Like father, like son. Back in 1980, Craig Stadler won his first-ever PGA TOUR event with a win at the Hope. Now his son Kevin will look to do the same. Having played on three different tours last season - six starts on the PGA TOUR, 10 on the Nationwide Tour, and six on the European Tour - Stadler earned enough on the Nationwide to regain his PGA TOUR card of the '07 season. He also broke through last year in one of his six Euro starts with a win at the Johnnie Walker Championship.

Veteran
A former winner in 2000, Jesper Parnevik has always played well here in the desert. The colorful Swede has teed it up 10 times in this event, and in addition to his victory, has four top-10s, with two top-5s coming in his last three starts. He finished second only to Campbell last year, his best showing since a runner-up at the 2004 Chrysler Championship. Parnevik, whose last win on TOUR came in 2001, played well last week in Hawaii, until a closing 2-over 72 dropped him into a tie for 28th place.

Related Links:

  • Full Coverage - Bob Hope Chrysler Classic
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