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Humana Challenge Begins New Era

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La Quinta - As the Humana Challenge embarks on a new chapter in the history of one of the PGA Tour’s most storied golf tournaments, the 144-player professional field provides a rich blend of golf’s present and future stars, and many names that have enriched the history of the sport and the Coachella Valley’s annual PGA Tour event.

The Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation begins next week with plenty of added intrigue. San Diego native Phil Mickelson, the 2002 and 2004 tournament champion and four-time major championship winner, makes his 2012 season debut along with Dustin Johnson, the field’s highest-ranked player at No. 8 in the world. Defending FedExCup champion Bill Haas returns to the site of his first PGA TOUR win, in 2010.

La Quinta High School product Anthony Kim plays his home tournament for the first time since tying for third in 2008. World Golf Hall of Famer, former World No. 1, and 1986 and 1993 British Open champion Greg Norman makes his second appearance in the event (first since 1986) and first stateside start in a PGA TOUR event since the 2009 Masters.

Other leading players in the field include World No. 11 Matt Kuchar, who won the PGA TOUR’s money title, was the FedExCup Playoffs’ runner-up, and was a tournament runner-up in 2010, 2001 PGA champion David Toms, 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson, 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman and defending champion Jhonattan Vegas.

The event’s star-studded celebrity field is headlined by musicians Smokey Robinson, Alice Cooper and Michael Bolton; actors Morgan Freeman, Don Cheadle, Craig T. Nelson, Billy Crudup and Lucas Black; and basketball Hall of Famer Julius Erving.

“We are delighted and privileged to host such an accomplished field of players and personalities this year,” Humana Challenge Tournament Chairman Larry Thiel said. “The format changes have certainly sparked interest among the PGA TOUR players and our spectators are in for a real treat. The event and the player field is much stronger than it’s been in recent years, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to provide for the Eisenhower Medical Center and many of the Coachella Valley ’s foremost charities.”

Mickelson, Haas and Vegas are three of 13 champions of the event formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic who are in the field. They are joined by Pat Perez (2009 champ), D.J. Trahan (2008), Charley Hoffman (2007), Chad Campbell (2006), Justin Leonard (2005), Joe Durant (2001), David Duval (1999), Mark Brooks (1996), Steve Jones (1989) and Keith Fergus (1983), the oldest player in the field at 57.

The field contains five 2011 U.S. Presidents Cup players (Johnson, Kuchar, Mickelson, Haas and Toms), 12 major champions, 12 of the top 43 players in the Official World Golf Rankings, 13 of the top 30 on last year’s money list, and 12 golfers who finished in the top 30 in last year’s FedExCup Playoffs and played in the TOUR Championship. Collectively, the field has won 300 PGA TOUR titles and 17 major championships, and includes 19 golfers who won on the PGA TOUR in 2011.

Humana Challenge tickets, beginning at $25, can be purchased online at www.humanachallenge.com, by calling 1-888-672-4673, by visiting Lumpy’s (the “Official Golf Retail Partner” for the Humana Challenge) in La Quinta and Rancho Mirage, or by visiting Albertson’s grocery stores in the Coachella Valley.

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