Event organizers for the Frys.com Open, to be played in October at Silverado Resort in Napa, shared good news yesterday when they announced that current World #7 Rory McIlroy, the 24-year-old Northern Irishman who is considered to be the heir apparent to Tiger Woods as the next dominant player in professional golf, will play in the 2014 Frys.com Open.
McIlroy made the commitment to the tournament in February, during the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., informing Frys.com Open tournament president Duke Butler at that time of his decision to play in the event.
The Silverado Resort is the fourth course to host the Frys.com Open during its nine-year history. Starting life in Las Vegas in 2006, the tournament moved to Scottsdale, Az. in its third year, and was played there, at the Greyhawk Golf Club, for three years. A four-year run at the CordeValle Resort in San Martin, Ca., south of San Jose, ended with the 2013 event.
The event began life as one the PGA Tour’s post-FedEx Cup Fall Series events, but became the PGA Tour’s season-opener, with FedEx points awarded, when the Tour went to a wrap-around schedule beginning with the 2013-2014 season. For the 2014 event, 144 players will compete for a total purse of $5 million, with $900,000 going to the winner.
Confidence in the new venue runs high among tournament organizers. When announcing the news of McIlroy’s commitment to the event, tournament president Duke Butler said, “I can state overwhelmingly that this will be the best Frys tournament to date. This tournament in Napa is going to be significantly better than the previous Frys.com Opens, and we expect to exceed everyone’s expectations in Napa Valley.”
World Golf Hall of Fame member and 2014 tournament honoree/host Johnny Miller, one of the owners of the resort, said, “I appreciate Rory joining us at Silverado. We look forward to introducing my redesign of the North Course to Rory and welcoming him to the new Napa Valley Silverado Country Club and Resort. The Frys tournament will be a great opportunity for Northern California golf fans to see Rory in person.
The Silverado Resort has a long tournament history, having hosted PGA Tour events – the Kaiser International and Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic – from 1968 to 1980, and a Seniors Tour (now Champions Tour) event, the Transamerica, from 1989 to 2002.
Johnny Miller, a Bay Area golf legend and CBS golf commentator, has been a member of the Silverado Resort’s ownership group since 2010. One of Miller’s first moves as a co-owner was to renovate the resort’s North Course in hopes of bringing professional golf back to the resort. Miller is a two-time champion of the former Kaiser International tournament at Silverado, which he won in 1974, returning and defending his title the following year.
McIlroy burst onto the world golf scene in late 2008 when he jumped into the Top 100 of the Official World Golf Rankings, climbing into the Top 20 within months, in January 2009. His has dropped no lower than 22nd in the world since that time, and occupied the #1 position from August 2012 through mid-March 2013. His eleven worldwide professional wins include six PGA Tour victories, two in majors – the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Golf Club in Washington, D.C., and the 2012 PGA Championship, at Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
The Ulster native’s presence in the field at this year’s Frys event can be attributed to an agreement, brokered by PGA Tour officials and Frys.com President Duke Butler, which he and seven other prominent players are party to. In return for permission to play a new international event in Turkey in 2012, which was being held the same week as the Frys event, the eight agreed to play the Frys.com Open within the next three years.
The other players, besides McIlroy, who agreed to the plan, are Tiger Woods, 2012 U.S, Open champion Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, England’s Lee Westwood and Charl Schwartzel, of South Africa. None of the eight were in the field last year.