Humana has evolved from Rat Pack into 'week of well-being'

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2014, 12:34 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – The perfect weather, mountain views and low scores remain. Little else at the Humana Challenge resembles the event's glory days.

The old Bob Hope Classic was Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, T-bone steaks and late-night cocktails. The Humana Challenge – actually, the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation – is corporate executives, carrot sticks and early morning power walks.

''Let's not forget that Bob Hope lived to be 100. He walked every day of his life,'' tournament executive director and CEO Bob Marra said Wednesday.

''We take the health and well-being mission of the tournament very seriously. We have a Fortune 500 company, Humana, that is dedicated to this. That's what they do. The Clinton Foundation, the same thing, a worldwide organization that helps people with a big focus on health and well-being. ... We want to make this clearly the healthiest sports event in the world. You have to walk the walk when you say that.''

The tournament has done away with the celebrity portion of the pro-am field, though actor Craig T. Nelson, singer Michael Bolton, Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely and Golf Channel's Holly Sonders are playing as ''special guests.''

''We feel like it's more important to have high-profile people – still celebrities in their own right – who are aligned with the tournament philosophy than to have a field of celebrities,'' Marra said. ''There aren't many absolute, no-question A-list celebrities who play golf and play to a level where they don't harm the tournament. A super-hot celebrity who is smacking the ball all over the place and causing a ruckus hurts.''


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The pro-am players paid from $25,000 to $29,000 to play alongside the professionals for the first three days of the tournament, and six of them will advance to the final round. By eliminating the roughly 20 slots given to celebrities, the event cut expenses and generated more than $500,000.

''There was only so much you could do with celebrities,'' Marra said. ''It was a neat part of the past, but I like it better now.''

The regular field also is thin on star power, with Kapalua winner Zach Johnson the top-ranked player at No. 6. No. 14 Brandt Snedeker, No. 20 Webb Simpson and No. 22 Keegan Bradley are the only other top-30 players. Phil Mickelson, the headliner last year, is skipping the event to play in Abu Dhabi.

''This is one of my favorite events,'' Snedeker said. ''Obviously, the weather is perfect. The golf courses, I feel like, set up really well for me.''

Snedeker tied for 11th two weeks ago in the Tournament of Champions in his first start since injuring his left knee jumping off a Segway scooter in China in early November.

''Self-inflicted, stupidity injury,'' Snedeker said. ''Luckily, it was not very serious. It boiled down a deep bone bruise and a sprain in my ACL and is a hundred percent healed.''

Snedeker will begin play Thursday at La Quinta Country Club in a group with Rickie Fowler. Johnson is paired with Bradley. They also will open at La Quinta before shifting to PGA West for rounds at the Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer private courses.

Last year, Brian Gay won his fourth Tour title, closing with a 9-under 63 and beating Charles Howell III on the second hole of a playoff. David Lingmerth was eliminated on the first extra hole.

The 43-year-old Gay is fighting neck pain.

''It started as a crick two days before I went to Maui and it's lingered and lingered,'' Gay said. ''It's been better some days, worse some others. I've had treatment. ... Felt the best of any day yesterday afternoon swinging the club and pain-free and I woke up this morning and it was kind of a new spot and worse.''

Bradley has a cold.

''I got a little sick yesterday,'' Bradley said. ''I'm feeling much better today.''

They came to the right event.

''We like it call it a week of well-being with a side of golf,'' Humana's Tom Noland said.

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Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

The problem was an expired visa.

Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”