AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card “It’s a very fun place to play,” Couples said.”I came out Monday, too windy to play, then played on Tuesday and it was fun. But when the wind is blowing around at 20-30 miles an hour, it’s hard to swallow. “I played well. I’ll take 1 under, but if the wind isn’t blowing tomorrow, then it’s irrelevant. But the place is phenomenal.” GO LOW OR GO HOME It is well known you have to score low to be in contention at the Hope. In each of the last nine years, the winner has shot at least one round of 64 or better on the tournament’s rotation of courses. The last player to win without breaking 65 was Mark Brooks in 1996, who defeated John Huston by a stroke at 23 under. PALM DESERT – Fred Couples is the first to admit he loves the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. He might not be the biggest fan of the tourney’s newest course, the Classic Club. Couples fired a 1-under 71 on Thursday on the new par-72, 7,305-yard course, then carefully watched his words afterward. “It’s fun to play, but with the wind blowing at 30 miles an hour, it’s a bit much,” said Couples, who is at 4-under-par 140 and 11 shots behind leader Chad Campbell.”You have a guy at La Quinta who’s playing against little wind, then you get here. It’s a transformation, and not a good one to see. It then becomes pot luck.” Couples, who won the tourney in 1998, is playing in his 22nd Hope. But the days of players winning with scores of 30 under might be done as the Classic Club is quickly gaining a reputation for its wind-blown presence. BIG BUCKS Tournament officials have raised this year’s purse by $300,000 to an all-time high payout of $5 million. The winner will walk away with $900,000 or what was the entire purse for the 1987 tournament. MORE BUCKS The Hope is one of nine tournaments on the West Coast Swing and the honored”King of the Swing” champion is entitled to a handsome reward. The Swing concludes in late February at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship at LaCosta and the Chrysler Classic of Tucson. The overall winner will take home $500,000. Stuart Appleby holds the lead through two tournaments with 120 points, with Vijay Singh and David Toms second at 100. Singh and Toms are not in the Hope field. BUICK AWAITS Arrowhead Country Club pro Paul Dietsche will participate in next week’s PGA Tour event at the Buick Invitational in La Jolla. Dietsche earned an invitation by claiming one of two spots at a Bernardo Heights Country Club qualifier, held Jan. 9. “It’s always fun play against those guys,” Dietsche said.”I hope to play a little better than the last time.” By virtue of winning the Southern California PGA Club Professional Championship In 2002, he earned a berth in each of the three 2003 PGA Tour stops in Southern California – the Bob Hope, Buick Invitational and the Nissan Open held at Riviera in Pacific Palisades – and the ’02 Nationwide’s Mark Christopher Charity Classic at Empire Lakes GC in Rancho Cucamonga. He fired a 68-77 to miss the cut by one in the Buick after playing 27 holes on the second day. Joining Dietsche at the Buick will be Fred Sutton, head pro at Victorville’s Spring Valley Lake CC. Dietsche and Sutton each fired a 67 at the qualifier and earned the berth in a one-round playoff 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!