PGA Tour

Johnson heads weak field

Zach Johnson (AFP)
Zach Johnson (AFP)

Palm Springs - Tournament of champion winner Zach Johnson heads a weak field that includes just five of the top 30 players in the world at the PGA Tour's Humana Challenge which begins on Thursday.

Johnson shot a bogey-free final round 66 to easily win the Tournament of Champions earlier this month in Hawaii.

This week's Humana Challenge, held at the PGA West course in La Quinta, lacks the star power of that event.

Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson are among the notable players not participating this week, with the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship scheduled to run at the same time.

Tiger Woods is expected to begin his 2014 by playing in next week's Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, followed by the Dubai Desert Classic.

Besides Johnson, the Humana field does include Webb Simpson, Harris English, Keegan Bradley, Retief Goosen, Stuart Appleby, Aaron Baddeley and Ryo Ishikawa.

English is one of the hottest players on the Tour right now. English, who is number three in the FedEx Cup standings, finished fourth at last week's Sony Open in Hawaii.

He captured his second USPGA Tour title earlier this season at the OHL Classic in Cancun, Mexico and he has finished no worse than 11th in his last three starts on the US tour.

He is playing in a group with fellow American and former Humana winner Bill Haas in La Quinta, 41 km southeast of Palm Springs.

Haas won his first US tour title at the 2010 Humana, then finished runner-up in the next year.

The Humana Challenge kicks off the six event US west coast swing portion of the season. It is one of only two USPGA Tour tournaments - along with the Pebble Beach Pro-Am - that allows amateurs play with professional golfers during the rounds.

The west coast swing's six events comprise four in California and two in Arizona.

At last year's Humana, Brian Gay birdied the second playoff hole to defeat Charles Howell and David Lingmerth to win for the fourth time on the USPGA Tour.

Gay is partnered with David Toms this year.


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