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Bob Hope gets made over: new sponsor, new format

LA QUINTA, Calif. – The PGA Tour’s Bob Hope Classic has a new title sponsor and a new format.

Organizers said Thursday that the tournament will be called the Humana Challenge after Louisville, Ky.-based Humana agreed to an eight-year deal as title sponsor, along with the William J. Clinton Foundation. The tournament will be played Jan. 16-22.

The event had been without a title sponsor since Chrysler bailed out after 2008 during the financial crisis.

The tournament will change its format from five days to four, with the first three rounds played in a pro-am format. The previous format had been seen as one of the problems the Hope had in attracting a stronger field.

The pro-am teams will include one pro golfer and one amateur playing in groups of four. During the three rounds of pro-am competition, the pro will have a different amateur partner each day. Amateurs will compete in daily competitions as well as an overall three-day competition.

The fourth round will be for pros only with the usual cut of 70 plus ties. The field size will increase by 16 pros to a total of 144, and 144 amateurs.

The tournament will be played on three courses instead of four, with rounds at La Quinta Country Club and PGA West, including the Nicklaus and Palmer Private courses. The winner will receive the newly created Bob Hope Trophy. Hope got involved as tournament host in 1965.

The tournament week will feature a national conference focused on health and well-being, highlighted by a keynote speech from former President Bill Clinton.