Friday, January 18, 2008

Is the Old Hope Back?

A couple of days of very nice weather and low winds have created some favorable scoring conditions at the Hope rota this week. Larry Bohannan in the Desert Sun wonders if the Hope's old mantra of "how low can you go" is back.

[T]he image of the tournament as a place where a score of 68 is no better than par and 72 is like driving in reverse at a NASCAR race has taken a beating in the last year or so.

New courses have rotated in, old familiar and short courses have rotated out. A couple of days of strong winds have sent scores soaring. And a tournament that produced a winning score of 28-under or better six consecutive years from 2000 to 2005 was reduced to a winning score of 17-under in 2007.

But a few days of good weather and some familiarity with at least one of the newer courses in the event has scores this week headed back to the entertaining numbers that would make Bob Hope himself smile.

And Bohannan corrected adds that this is good news for the tournament, especially if it hopes to land superstars again. Pro-ams can be a major headache for the players. Rounds are longer, rhythm is tough to establish, and it just is a grind. If the courses played as part of the pro-am are annoying (windy, too long, etc), then there is no let up for the player to even try to enjoy the pro-am experience. If the courses are easy, though, then golfers that find a rhythm can go low, place well, and still have a lot of fun. Of course, I'm talking particularly about Phil Mickelson.

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