Zach Johnson joins Humana Challenge; celebrity field dropped

December 11th, 2013 | by Shad Powers | Comments

Zach Johnson, seen Sept. 16 at the BMW Championship in Lake Forest, Ill., is among the players announced Wednesday at Humana Challenge media day. (Charles Rex Arbogast, The Associated Press)

Zach Johnson, seen Sept. 16 at the BMW Championship in Lake Forest, Ill., is among the players announced Wednesday at Humana Challenge media day. (Charles Rex Arbogast, The Associated Press)

LA QUINTA — Wednesday morning was the annual media day to promote the valley’s PGA golf tournament  —  the  Humana Challenge in Partnership with the Clinton Foundation — and once the healthy breakfast buffet had been sifted through, tournament director Bob Marra addressed the media and delivered some newsy tidbits relating to the 2014 tournament.

Marra, speaking on a dais that included defending champion Brian Gay, as well as representatives for both Humana and the Clinton Foundation, was happy to officially announce some big names that will be in the field this year.

Aside from the already-announced Ricky Fowler, Marra divulged that top professionals Keegan Bradley, Zach Johnson, Brandt Snedker and golf icon Greg Norman have all committed to the tournament this year.

Probably the biggest revelation of the day is that there will not be a formal celebrity field this year, breaking with one of the more entrenched traditions in the event.

“We’re making a change in the way we’re approaching celebrities in being involved in the pro-am portion of the tournament,” Marra said. “So we’re not having a formal official celebrity field this year. Instead, we’re going to have people we’re calling special guests that are high-profile people that make sense, that match up with the mission of the tournament that exhibit the kind of things that we’re into.”

In other words, not the traditional celebrity field, but, as an example, Holly Saunders, an on-air talent at the Golf Channel who is an outspoken advocate of both fitness and golf.

Other revelations from media day:

A new partnership with Cobra Puma Golf: This partnership, which likely helped draw Fowler back to the desert, will be noticeable throughout the grounds on tournament week as they will sponsor the pro-am on Wednesday and Club 17, the bar area around the 17th hole at the PGA Palmer Course.

Top amateurs play on Sunday: The top three amateurs with low gross scores and the three lowest net scores will play on Sunday against each other. To determine this winner, though, the amateurs do not get to use their pro partner’s scores so they have to play their own ball all day. Previously, the amateur portion of the event ended Saturday and the Sunday field was exclusively pros.

Clinton will be here again, may golf: The assembled media watched a taped video of Clinton talking about how exicted and proud he has been of the partnership between the Humana Challenge and his foundation so far and he looks forward to being in La Quinta in January. When asked, Clinton Foundation representative Valerie Alexander said it was still to be determined if Clinton would golf in the event.

Defending champion Brian Gay is fashionable: Gay said one of the honors of winning last year was getting a call from Bill Clinton. Gay said Clinton divulged during that call that he and Hillary watched the tournament together last year, and Hillary told Bill that he needs to improve the way he dresses when he plays golf, perhaps wearing something cool and hip like what Gay wore. That made him laugh he said.

For much more on the Humana Challenge Media Day stay tuned to, follow golf writer Larry Bohannan on twitter at @mydesertgolf and check out Thursday’s edition of The Desert Sun.

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