Follow The Leader
Continued (page 2 of 2)
Player, who is beginning his 60th year as a professional golfer, described his endorsement deal with Humana as "the most important contract I have ever had." A fitness nut who brought exercise to the tour 40 years before Woods and Annika Sorenstam made it Standard Operating Procedure, has in Humana a business partner who believes what he believes
"This country has an obesity problem, and tournaments like this make people aware, " said Player, who says he has been exercising for 68 of his 77 years and that he awoke Tuesday morning at 5:30 to do 1,000 sit-ups before the Health Matters conference.
The changes in the format -- from five rounds to four, four courses to three and three amateurs per day to two with none on Sunday -- as well as the tireless work by Clinton has breathed new life into an event that not long ago had none of the top 36 players in the world, but this year has nine of the 30 who competed in last year's Tour Championship.
In Brandt Snedeker, the FedEx Cup winner, Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar the Humana has five U.S. Ryder Cup team members. Bo Van Pelt, Robert Garrigus, Carl Pettersson and John Senden are the other Tour Championship contestants in the field.
But it could be better. Masters champion Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan and Keegan Bradley are top-10 FedEx Cup players from 2012 who are playing in neither Abu Dhabi nor La Quinta this week. They should be here. And guys, it's for your own sake. You'd be serving a worthy cause and believe me, you'd have a ball. The energy Clinton brings to the event is off the charts.
In May, Sports Business Journal named the Humana Challenge the 2012 Event of the Year over Super Bowl XLVI, the 2011 NBA Finals, the 2011 Carrier Classic and UFC 129. That's a heady group of events for a golf tournament to beat out.
Clearly, the Sports Business Journal got it. They understand the importance of the Humana Challenge and the potential role it could play in dealing with issues like obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental illness and addiction.
Now, more PGA tour players need to get it. This is an event that not only deserves to be supported, it demands to be supported. As Gary Player said, this event is about more than golf. And no sport gives back to society better than golf.
See you in the desert next year Tiger, Dufs and maybe even Rory, Rosie, Luke and Ernie -- the desert in California, not the one in Abu Dhabi. The Humana Challenge is on a ride you don't want to miss -- a journey to a healthier way of living that will literally save lives.