Matt Kuchar is confident of making a successful start to his 2012 PGA Tour season Thursday, when he tackles one of his favorite tournaments.
Previously known as the Bob Hope Classic, the rebranded the Humana Challenge is one where world No. 11 Kuchar has a strong record. He was runner-up in 2010 and finished seventh last year, and another impressive result is his objective for the next four days.
The Humana Challenge, formerly the Bob Hope Classic, has dropped its five-day format in favor of a four-day format but retains its celebrity pro-am component.
"It's been five or six years now that I've started my year by coming out here early, doing some practicing out in the desert," he said. "I think it's just a great place to get ready for the year.
"Normally I come out here before the Hawaii tournaments. This year I took a little extra time off, felt like the offseason was extra short with the Presidents Cup being in the middle of November, and I kept playing through into December, so my offseason was really short this year," he explained. "I decided to start my year here instead of in Hawaii and am real excited."
The pro-am event has a change of format this year. Rather than the five rounds of previous years, where players have played in groups of four made up of one professional and three amateurs, this year the tournament is played over four rounds, one each at the La Quinta and the Palmer and Nicklaus courses at PGA West before the final round is also played on the Palmer Course.
Each group will consist of two professionals and two amateurs -- a set-up Kuchar prefers -- and the professionals will go it alone on the final 18 holes.
"I think I'm a good fit for the format, and I think everybody is going to like the new format even better," he said. "It's been great to see the tour make these tweaks, and I think this tournament has all of a sudden become a sought-after and exciting event.
"I'm really looking forward to continuing the tradition of coming out here and seeing this event get better and better."
Not only does the format please the 33-year-old, but he also believes the three courses suit his style of play.
"I like these courses. I feel like they're straightforward, there's a lot of opportunities to score," he explained. "I feel like I drive the ball well, I put myself in position to take advantage of wedges and my wedge game's generally pretty good.
"I was close last year and I had a couple of good chances to win," he said. "Some guys just played some amazing golf and I couldn't catch them. I would like to definitely get a win this year and hopefully have a year with multiple wins. But looking back on it, it was a good year, I learnt a lot."
Kuchar's first appearance of the season is alongside an impressive field that includes defending champion Jhonattan Vegas, two-time Bob Hope winner Phil Mickelson, 2010 winner Bill Haas, former PGA Champion David Toms and former Masters champion Zach Johnson.