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Humana Reportedly Nearing Deal to Sponsor Bob Hope Classic

Gary Burzell@@ohbjuanCorrespondent IIIApril 6, 2011

Jhonattan Vegas winner of the 2011 Bob Hope Classic.
Jhonattan Vegas winner of the 2011 Bob Hope Classic.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Golfweek.com and several other national media sources are reporting that Humana, the health benefits provider to employees of the PGA Tour since 2005, is expected to be the new title sponsor of the Bob Hope Classic.

The Bob Hope Classic has been without a title sponsor since Chrysler LLC ended its sponsorship of the Palm Springs, Ca. area tournament in 2009. Organizers held the event without a title sponsor in 2010 and 2011.

SportsBusiness Daily is reporting Humana will sign on for an eight-year sponsorship, and a formal announcement of the deal is imminent.

John Foster, president of the Bob Hope Classic, told the Desert Sun of Palm Springs that the report is premature and what he as seen so far is not totally accurate.

The reports are also saying that the agreement could include an expansion of the Bob Hope Classic field of professionals from 128 players to 144 while going to a more traditional four-day tournament format.

The Bob Hope is currently the only five-day tournament on the PGA Tour schedule, and some PGA pros have expressed their dislike of the current format. The reports are also saying the agreement may feature three courses instead of the four now used.

For the last several years the Bob Hope Classic has not been able to draw some of the top-ranked golfers, in part because of the Abu Dhabi event which is played the same week.Β 
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Many top pros have also expressed some dislike of the Hope's pro-am format as a reason for not playing in the event.

In the past few years, many PGA tour events have lost or changed sponsorships due to the economic recession, and an agreement with Humana would be a big boost to the Bob Hope.

The agreement may be especially beneficial for the Bob Hope if the format was changed to one that tour pros would prefer over the current oneβ€”and perhaps enticing more of the top pros to play in the event.

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