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Stellar Field Shaping up for Bob Hope Classic


Defending champion Bill Haas, top 2010 PGA Tour money earner and FedEx Cup playoff runner-up Matt Kuchar, 2009 British Open champion Stewart Cink and 2007 winner Charley Hoffman are among the early commitments among the 128 professionals for the 52nd Bob Hope Classic, January 17-23.

Tournament play in the 90-hole event begins Wednesday, January 19 and concludes Sunday, January 23 at the Palmer Private Course at PGA West.

Besides Haas, Kuchar and Hoffman, seven other winners from last year - Bubba Watson, Ryan Palmer, Heath Slocum, Bill Lunde, Derek Lamely, Matt Bettencourt and Cameron Beckman ¬- are expected to play. Watson and Kuchar tied for second in last year's Bob Hope Classic, finishing a shot behind Haas's 30-under-par 330 total.

Haas won his first PGA Tour title at the 2010 Bob Hope Classic and was one of seven players to win multiple Tour events in 2010. Kuchar and Hoffman won 2010 FedEx Cup Playoff events at The Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship, respectively.

The early field also includes four 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup players in Kuchar, Cink, Watson and Jeff Overton, and eight players who finished in the top-30 of the 2010 FedEx Cup playoff standings: Kuchar, Hoffman, Watson, Palmer, Kevin Streelman, Kevin Na, Overton and Bo Van Pelt.

Besides Bill Haas, former Bob Hope Classic champions who have given early commitments to return to the Coachella Valley include Hoffman, Chad Campbell (2006 champion), Justin Leonard (2005), Joe Durant (2001, when he set the Classic's 90 record of 36-under-par 324), Jesper Parnevik (2000) and Mark Brooks (1996).

Other notables include 13-time PGA Tour champ and 1989 British Open winner Mark Calcavecchia and eight-time PGA Tour winner and 1998 U.S. Open champ Lee Janzen. For the second consecutive year, the $5 million event will be played entirely within La Quinta, at La Quinta Country Club, SilverRock Resort, and the Palmer and Nicklaus Private Courses at PGA West.

Celebrity participants scheduled to play in the first four rounds (72 holes) include: musicians Alice Cooper, Tommy Thayer (KISS guitarist), Steve Cropper, Steve Azar and Don Felder (formerly of The Eagles), country music singer Pat Green, actors Kurt Russell, William Devane, Craig T. Nelson ("Parenthood"), Rob Morrow ("Numb3ers," "Northern Exposure"), Peter Gallagher ("Covert Action," "The OC," "Mr. Deeds"), Scott Wolf ("V," "Party of Five"), Joel Gretsch ("V") and Jerry Ferrara ("Entourage"), Tony Dovolani ("Dancing with the Stars"), Nigel Lythgoe ("So You Think You Can Dance," "American Idol" producer), actors/comedians Kevin Nealon ("Saturday Night Live," "Happy Gilmore," "Weeds").

Others include Gary Valentine ("The King of Queens"); actor/comedian/game show host John O'Hurley; comedians Tom Dreesen and Ron White; Tampa Bay Rays All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria; four-time Cy Young Award winner, 355-game winning pitcher and future Baseball Hall of Famer Greg Maddux; former National Football League and Major League Baseball star Bo Jackson; NFL career rushing leader, three-time Super Bowl champion and "Dancing With the Stars" winner Emmitt Smith; former NFL MVP and Super Bowl-winning running back and NFL Network analyst Marshall Faulk; NFL Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith; former Green Bay Packers wide receiver and NFL Network analyst Sterling Sharpe; former NFL wide receiver Willie Gault; Basketball Hall of Famer and retired San Antonio Spurs star George "The Iceman" Gervin; American figure skating legend Scott Hamilton; retired Indy car driver and 1985 Indianapolis 500 winner Danny Sullivan; sports broadcaster Ann Liguori; and television news personality Bret Baier.

Dreesen will be making his 17th consecutive Bob Hope Classic appearance and 20th overall, joining Bob Hope, Andy Williams, Glen Campbell, Johnny Bench, Gerald Ford, Gary Morton and Lawrence Welk as the Classic's only celebrities to play 20 years. Dreesen has the longest active playing streak in the Classic among celebrities. Cropper, Green, Morrow, Gallagher, Wolf, Ferrara, Dovolani, Lythgoe, Gault, Gervin, Sullivan, Liguori and Baier are scheduled to make their Classic debuts in the celebrity golfing field.

The celebrity field's schedule is as follows: Wednesday, January 19, SilverRock Resort; Thursday, January 20, La Quinta Country Club; Friday, January 21, Nicklaus Private at PGA West; Saturday, January 22, Arnold Palmer Private at PGA West.

Practice rounds for the 2011 Classic at all four courses will be conducted Monday, January 17 and Tuesday, January 18. Tournament play begins Wednesday, January 19 and concludes Sunday, January 23 at the Palmer Private Course at PGA West.

In 51 years, the Classic has donated nearly $49 million to charities throughout the Coachella Valley. For tickets or additional information, visit www.bobhopeclassic.com.