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Mickelson to serve as tournament host of Palm Springs event

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Phil Mickelson will expand his role next year at the newly minted American Express, serving as official tournament host for the first time.

Mickelson has won the PGA Tour's annual Palm Springs stop, most recently known as the Desert Classic, two times (2002, 2004), and last year he finished one shot behind Adam Long. Mickelson has a home in the La Quinta area and has made a total of 16 career appearances in the event, missing it only once since 2012.

While the exact host duties have yet to be announced according to a Palm Springs Desert Sun report, Mickelson attended a ceremony Saturday with local officials to announce his new role.

"It's always been an important part of my life. I would come out here and play junior tournaments here," Mickelson said. "I've always been passionate about here, and I love the tournament itself. But more than that, this tournament has meant historically a lot to this area, and I want to bring back the vision of Bob Hope."

The tournament's lineage dates back to the 1960 and it was identified for many years by its relationship with Hope, a comedian and longtime tournament staple. This year's event will be played Jan. 16-19.

Played across three area courses with pros partnering with amateurs for the first three rounds, the event has had trouble in recent years retaining a long-term sponsor and was played as the Humana Challenge (2012-15) and CareerBuilder Challenge (2016-18).

Last year's event was played without a title sponsor, but earlier this year tournament officials announced a five-year title partnership with American Express that will begin in 2020.

Mickelson has won 44 times on Tour, most recently the AT&T Pebble Beach in February. But he has struggled in the months since, dropping out of the top 50 in the world rankings for the first time since 1993. He joins Tiger Woods (Genesis Invitational) and Davis Love III (RSM Classic) as active Tour players who also serve as tournament hosts.