SBD/April 14, 2011/Events and Attractions

Hope Floats: PGA Tour Event Announces Humana Deal, Sweeping Format Changes

The PGA Tour Bob Hope Classic today formally announced an "eight-year sponsorship deal" with Humana and an alignment with the Clinton Global Initiative, as well as plans to "undergo the most sweeping changes to its format since the event debuted in 1960," according to Larry Bohannan of the Palm Springs DESERT SUN. The tournament "will scrap its unique five-day, 90-hole format that included four courses for a more traditional four-day schedule that will see 144 pros and 144 amateurs playing just three courses." Approximately 20 celebrities "will be part of the amateur field, continuing the tournament's history of celebrity golf." Bob Hope Classic Tournament Chair Larry Thiel: "Just like the people who run any other business, you have to at some point in time determine what it is that will allow the future of the Bob Hope Classic." Thiel added that "other details, such as what the tournament will be called or what courses will be played, have yet to be finalized." Bohannan notes the tournament's future beyond next year was "in doubt ... until Humana stepped forward." The event "had been without a sponsor since 2009, when longtime sponsor Chrysler left after filing for bankruptcy and accepting federal bailout money." The tournament also "had been the target of criticism for the weakness of its professional field and the caliber of its celebrity field in recent years." Thiel said that former President Bill Clinton's "star power should elevate both the pro and celebrity fields." He added that the new partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative "will not damage the Hope's ability to fund local charities" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 4/14). GMR Marketing negotiated the deal for Humana and will manage activation (THE DAILY).
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