2009 Bob Hope Classic Review
by Matt of Predictem.com
A tremendous amount of birdies and records fell this week on the PGA Tour as the 50th Bob Hope Classic turned into a shootout never before seen. Arnold Palmer hosted the event from La Quinta, California, eventually won by Pat Perez at an amazing 33-under par.
The Hope is contested over five days on four different courses, none of which put up much of a fight for the Pros as the four-day cut came at 15-under and a 20-under total was barely good enough for a top-50 finish. The winds did pick up on Sunday, becoming a factor for the leaders in particular, and leading to the only 70+ stroke field scoring average of any single day. The Wednesday to Saturday aggregate average was a shade under 68 for the Palmer Private Course that held the final round.
Pat Perez collects his first winners check on Tour after a very solid statistical week. Perez led the field in putts per round and putts per green in regulation while averaging 303 yards off the tee and ranking 17th in greens hit. Perez dominated the GIR% through three rounds, hitting 89, 89, and 94% Wednesday to Friday.
Wednesday: Perez gets off to a smoking start, firing an 11-under, 61 at the Palmer course to take the day one lead. Mike Weir and Bubba Watson stay close with 10-under totals at the Palmer and a group of players manage 9-under rounds to stay close, including Briny Baird, Vaughn Taylor and Ben Crane.
Thursday: Perez followed up his 61 with a 63 on day two to maintain a two stroke lead at day’s end. The round set or tied no fewer than four PGA scoring records, including low score through 36 holes and most under par for the opening two days. Briny Baird carded another 63, including an ace, on Thursday to get to second at 18-under with David Berganio another stroke back at 17-under par. Brad Adamonis moved to 8th at 15-under after a Thursday low round of 62.
Friday: Pat Perez stays ahead of the field with a 67 to get to a tournament record low of 25-under. Steve Stricker charged up the leaderboard with a tournament low round of 61, following up his 65/67 start to move to within two strokes of the lead at 23-under. Vaughn Taylor moved to 22-under with a 64 and a large group of players are in the hunt at 20-under or better, including Berganio, Baird, Tom Pernice, Jr. and Charlie Wi who matched Stricker with a 61.
Saturday: Records continue to fall as Stricker follows up Friday’s 61 with a 62 on Saturday and now holds the best consecutive round scoring mark in PGA history. Stricker moves to an amazing 33-under par for the event and takes a three stroke leader on Pat Perez after a 67. Robert Garrigus, Bubba Watson and Vaughn Taylor are tied for third, although seven back at 26-under par.
The cut for this event comes after 72 holes and sets a Hope record at 15-under. Jesper Parnevik records the day-four low round of 61 but falls one short of the number at 14-under. Other notable players outside the cut line are Steve Elkington, David Duval, Scott Verplank and Corey Pavin.
Sunday: In an odd twist, the winds picked up on Sunday, turning the benign Palmer track into a bit of a struggle. Certainly no player had a tougher go than 72-hole leader, Steve Stricker. Stricker maintained his lead for much of the front nine, but a triple bogey on 7 brought the field back into contention and a quad on 10 sapped any juice Steve had left. Stricker would card a 5-over, 77, to fall to a tie for third with Mike Weir at 28-under.
Pat Perez played smart through the tough conditions, eventually dropping an eagle on the 18th to move to 33-under and score the three stroke win over John Merrick at 30-under. Stephen Ames used a Sunday low round of 63 to move to a T5 with Bo Van Pelt, Tim Clark and Webb Simpson.
Other notable finishers include defending champ. D.J. Trahan at 25-under and a tie for 12th, Brian Gay with his 3rd top-25 in ’09 after a T19 and last week’s runner up, David Toms with a T25 finish.
Zach Johnson stays atop the Money list with just over $1 million earned, leading Geoff Ogilvy, also just over the $1 million mark. Pat Perez moves to third on the list with John Merrick at fourth, moving from 79th a week earlier. Steve Stricker was a big mover as well, landing at 11th from the 50th spot after the Sony.
Johnson, Ogilvy, Perez and Merrick take the top four spots in the early FedEx race with Adam Scott in the fifth spot.
The PGA travels south to Arizona this week for the FBR Open where Phil Mickelson will make his ’09 debut.