Phil Mickelson is stepping up his commitment to the PGA Tour's event in Palm Springs, Calif., becoming the official host of the former Bob Hope Classic.
The tournament has a new title sponsor, with American Express taking over the naming rights to the event after the tournament was played as the Desert Classic in 2019. In 2020, the tournament will be played as The American Express, and Mickelson, who had been unofficial host in recent years and the tournament's ambassador for the last three years, is now formally the welcoming committee.
"It's always been an important part of my life. I would come out here and play junior tournaments here," Mickelson said to The Desert Sun, which first reported the news. "I've always been passionate about here, and I love the tournament itself. But more than that, this tournament has meant historically a lot to this area, and I want to bring back the vision of Bob Hope."
Mickelson is a two-time winner of the event, in 2002 and 2004, and he's been a regular participant in the event, including finishing runner-up to Adam Long by a shot in the 2019 edition of the event.
The left-hander joins Tiger Woods as active PGA Tour players who host PGA Tour events. Woods is the host of the Genesis Invitational, turning the former Los Angeles Open into a 120-player invitational starting in 2020.
Bringing on Mickelson in an official host capacity is part of a multi-faceted plan to bring back some prominence to the long-running event, typically slotted as the first event of the calendar year on the mainland United States. The purse has been increased by $800,000 to $6.7 million, bringing it more in line with purse expectations on the modern PGA Tour.
A concert series was announced, with Stevie Nicks and Luke Bryan performing shows.
The pro-am portion of the event will remain unchanged, with 156 pros and 156 amateurs paired together on three courses over the first three days. Mickelson hopes his involvement as host will bring on more high-ranked players, while American Express is looking to increase the profile of the amateurs competing by inviting CEOs and high-level decision makers to participate.
The tournament will be the third of the new year, played Jan. 16-19, with The Stadium Course at PGA West remaining host.