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January 22, 2011

Man from Hope to rescue Classic? PGA Tour in talks with Clinton

Posted at 4:01 PM by Stephanie Wei | Categories: Bill Clinton, Bob Hope Classic, Joe Ogilvie

LA QUINTA, Calif. — The potential of President Bill Clinton getting involved with the Bob Hope Classic has caused a stir at this week's event. In an official statement released to the media on Saturday morning at PGA West, the PGA Tour revealed that it's been in talks with two Clinton-led organizations about potential partnerships with the former president, who famously billed himself as the Man from Hope (Ark.) during his 1992 presidential campaign:

The Commissioner and the PGA Tour have been in discussions over the past several months with the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative regarding a broad partnership that would involve the Clinton Foundation's longstanding commitment to improving lives with the Tour's "Together, Anything's Possible" charitable initiative. This includes the potential for leveraging the Bob Hope Classic as a focal point for this partnership. We would like to stress these discussions are in progress and any speculation as to the details would be premature. When completed, a detailed overview will be provided.

The Hope has been without a sponsor since Chrysler dropped its support in the summer of 2009.

Joe Ogilvie's comments to golfdigest.com on Friday likely prompted the PGA Tour's bulletin. Ogilvie, known as one of the most cerebral players on Tour, believes that Clinton's involvement as host of the Hope would revitalize the troubled event and help lure big-name celebrities:

"I think it might need an A-list host that says, 'you know, this is an important event. The Eisenhower Medical Center has touched a lot of people's lives,'" Ogilvie said following the third round of the Bob Hope Classic on Friday. "I think the guy I'd have host this tournament is Bill Clinton. I think he was a Republican's best friend, even though he was a Democratic president. He obviously holds huge cachet with the Democratic party. And this tournament has always had a political element. I remember watching it when [former Speaker of the House] Tip O'Neill played it, and it had the three presidents play [in 1995, when Clinton, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush played]. A Bill Clinton would add instant cachet. He also would bring in an A-list clientele and he could walk a sponsor in."

Clinton, along with former presidents George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford, played in the first round of the Hope in 1995.

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