Exclusive: Rory McIlroy to play Napa Frys.com Open in October
TWO-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION IS NO. 7 IN THE OFFICIAL WORLD GOLF RANKING
Written by: Marty James – Napa Valley Register
He’s one of the bright, young stars on the PGA Tour. He’s just 24 years old and already has two major wins, the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., and 2012 PGA Championship at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, S.C.
He’s No. 7 in the official World Golf Ranking. He’s known for his prodigious length off the tee, pounding drives into a different area code, a different ZIP code.
He left school at age 16 to concentrate on amateur golf. He turned professional on Sept. 18, 2007, at the age of 18 after a stellar amateur career where he was the world’s top-ranked amateur.
He’s played on two Ryder Cup teams, in 2010 and 2012.
He’s Rory McIlroy, and later this year he’ll be playing golf in Napa.
McIlroy will play in the Frys.com Open, a $5 million full FedExCup points event, which takes place Oct. 6-12 on the North Course at Silverado Resort and Spa. Frys.com Open president Duke Butler has received a commitment from McIlroy, who has six PGA Tour wins and is one of the favorites going into the Masters, the first major of the year, which begins Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.
“I can state overwhelmingly that this will be the best Frys tournament to date,” Butler said. “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.”
McIlroy, 51st among PGA Tour FedExCup leaders, informed Butler in late February of his decision to play at the Frys.com Open. It was during the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., that McIlroy committed to playing Frys.
“We are announcing at this point that Rory McIlroy has (verbally) committed to play and intends to be present for the Frys.com Open at Silverado,” said Butler, a former senior vice president for the PGA Tour.
The Frys.com Open is the season-opening tournament for the 2014-15 season. Launched in 2006, the Frys.com Open is an official PGA Tour event benefiting local and national charities. Title sponsor Fry’s Electronics, headquartered in San Jose, is a privately owned retailer with 34 nationwide locations. Golf Channel will televise each of the four rounds.
There will be 144 players in the field. The winner receives $900,000.
The tournament has options for similar dates in 2015 and 2016 at Silverado.
“I appreciate Rory joining us at Silverado,” said Johnny Miller, a World Golf Hall of Fame member and one of Silverado’s owners. “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.
“I am sure the players and their families will fall in love with the Silverado experience like I have.”
McIlroy, with 10 wins worldwide, has two top-10 and four top-25 finishes in the four events that he has played this year. He has a 69.413 scoring average and is driving the ball an average of 303.1 yards.
“His most outstanding trait is he drives the ball very long and very aggressively,” said Butler. “He hits his driver a lot. He drives it straight.”
McIlroy won late last year at the Australian Open. He began the 2013 season No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
He was named PGA Tour Player of the Year in 2012 after finishing No. 2 in the final FedExCup standings. He led both the PGA Tour money list and the European Tour money list.
McIlroy’s rookie season of 2010 was highlighted by his first PGA Tour victory, at the Quail Hollow Championship.
He placed in the top 125 on the PGA Tour non-member money list in 2009. McIlroy, who is from Northern Ireland, made 11 starts on the PGA Tour that year and won his first professional title, at the Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour.
“I’ve been in contention quite a bit already this season and haven’t quite finished the job,” McIlroy said on ASAPSports.com from the Shell Houston Open in Humble, Texas, last week. “But you know, as long as I keep playing well and playing the way I have been, hopefully those opportunities will come along and I’ll be able to take a few of them.
“It’s been a good start to the season. It’s a good problem to have, being in contention, because at least you’re putting yourself in a position to win. I feel good about my game.”
McIlroy was one of eight prominent players who went to Turkey to play in a new event in 2012. It was the same week as the Frys. Besides McIlroy, the others were Tiger Woods, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood and Charl Schwartzel.
“We were able to negotiate that each of those eight would play in the Frys.com Open at least once in the next three years,” said Butler.
None of them played last year at Frys.