What makes the Bob Hope Desert Classic different from other PGA Tour events is that it’s 90 holes over five days, the ‘King’ Arnold Palmer is the host and a pre-tourney favorite suddenly isn’t.
Anthony Kim opened as the 5-1 favorite at the Hilton to win the five-day event that starts Wednesday in La Quinta, California. But Kim pulled out of the tourney Tuesday morning, moving Justin Leonard (pictured) up from a 15-1 second choice to 10-1 favorite. Leonard finished tied for fifth in the Mercedes-Benz Tournament of Champions two weeks ago in Kapalua, Hawaii.
Several golfers also saw their odds of winning the Hope improve. Mike Weir went from 20-1 to 12-1, David Toms from 20-1 to 12-1, Tim Clark from 25-1 to 20-1 and both Steve Stricker and Chad Campbell from 25-1 to 20-1. Toms tied for second last week at the Sony Classic in Maui. Weir is making his PGA Tour debut at La Quinta, while Clark finished tied for 12th at Maui.
Another golfer positively affected by Kim’s absence is defending Hope champion D.J. Trahan, whose odds improved from 40-1 to 30-1. Trahan finished sixth at Kapalua in his only start. Other golfers coming off good results are Steve Marino (30-1), Brian Gay (40-1), Bill Haas (40-1) and Kevin Na (60-1). Na finished fifth in Maui, while Marino was tied for seventh and Haas ninth. Gay placed fifth at Maui and 18th at Kapalua.
Other notables in the Hope carrying long odds are Fred Couples (80-1), Chris Di Marco (100-1), Colt Knost (150-1) and former world’s No. 1 ranked player David Duval (200-1). Knost is making his PGA Tour debut off the Nationwide Tour.
In individual matchups at the Hilton, Leonard is a -130 favorite over Weir (+110), Clark and Steve Stricker each -110, Marino and Ken Duke each -110 and Gay an even money underdog to Trahan (-120).