Phil Mickelson, a World Golf Hall of Fame member and the winner of 42 PGA Tour events, has committed to play in the Safeway Open at Silverado Resort and Spa for the second year in a row, tournament Executive Director Jeff Sanders said.
Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion and the winner of five majors, tied for eighth place at the Safeway Open last year after shooting 14-under-par on the North Course. Mickelson, who drew large crowds, had rounds of 69, 69, 69 and 67. He earned $162,000.
The Safeway Open is the season-opening event on the PGA Tour’s 2017-18 wrap-around schedule and will be played Oct. 2-8.
“We’re just thrilled to have him come back,” said Sanders, executive vice president of golf events for Lagardère Sports & Entertainment. “That’s a testimony to the event, to Silverado and to Safeway, that he would come back and play again. And to announce his desire to play this far in advance is just fantastic for our event.”
“He commits early because he believes in the tournament. He had a great time last year. He played well. He was in the hunt going into Sunday. He’s looking forward to playing.
“We’re all just so excited to have Phil Mickelson back as our first commitment for the 2017 Safeway Open. He’s certainly a legend of the game. I think Phil Mickelson is just the most popular player in the game. I think he’s still got some wins in him. I know he believes that. He’s practicing as hard as ever, playing in a lot of tournaments, and playing well. I think we’re going to see some more great things out of Phil Mickelson before his career is over.”
This is Safeway’s second year as title sponsor of the a $6.2 million event. Last year’s field of 144 golfers included Matt Kuchar, Justin Thomas, Webb Simpson and Paul Casey.
For the season, Mickelson is 39th in FedExCup points and 40th in earnings. He has four Top-10 finishes and is 25th in the Official World Golf Ranking.
“We are very excited to have Phil return to play in the Safeway Open again this year,” Bob Miller, chairman and CEO of Albertsons Companies, the parent company of Safeway, said in a press release. “He was absolutely terrific last year. Phil is a great ambassador for the game of golf and one of the most exciting players to watch.
“We are committed to making the Safeway Open the best experience on the PGA Tour for the players, fans, sponsors and volunteers while raising important dollars for those in need. Phil’s early commitment will help us.”
This will be the fourth consecutive year of the PGA Tour at Silverado, which has a long history of having hosted professional tournament golf, dating to the late 1960s.
The five-year agreement with Safeway as the title sponsor runs through 2020. The event, presented by Chevron, is part of the FedExCup schedule.
The Kaiser International Open Invitational, a PGA Tour event, was played from 1968-1976 at Silverado. The Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic, a PGA Tour event, was held here from 1977-1980. The Transamerica, a Champions Tour event, was played from 1989-2002.
Silverado was once the site of the PGA Tour’s national qualifying school. The Northern California Open was also played here.
Beer, wine, spirits, food, music and golf is the theme of the event. The Safeway food and wine pavilion, a 25,000-square foot facility, will return and will again be located behind the No. 1 green and next to the 17th hole. There will be expanded viewing decks for spectators.
“I look forward to playing in the Safeway Open at Silverado again this year,” Mickelson said in a press release. “Bob Miller and Safeway/Albertsons have been one of our best PGA Tour sponsors for over 27 years, and Amy and I always enjoy our time in Napa.”
Last year marked Mickelson’s first appearance in a PGA Tour event in Napa and also the first time he played in the season-opening event since the Tour’s schedule changed to an October date.
He finished four shots behind the winner, Brendan Steele.
“During the tournament, he was super gracious, he was great with the fans and the families, signed all the autographs, smiled,” said Sanders. “He was just absolutely fantastic in every single way. He played good golf, he gave it his all. He took a run at it on Sunday.
“We need more Phil Mickelsons in our game.”
Mickelson is no stranger to competing in Northern California, having won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am four times over his career.
“What a first-class guy he is,” said Sanders.
Mickelson enjoyed his week in Napa, playing the North Course, which was re-designed by Johnny Miller.
“I like the feel of the golf course,” Mickelson said. “It reminds me of the old Torrey South. The way the holes move, the way the greens have similar contours to them and the length wasn’t overpowering but you had to be very precise to get it close to some of the holes.”
Mickelson said he enjoys playing aggressive golf and challenging himself on shots.
“When I have a more difficult shot, I get a better visual, a better picture of it, I tend to execute it a little bit better,” he said. “Sometimes when it’s just a mundane straightforward shot, I don’t have that crystal-clear focus. So that’s just always the way I’ve played and I enjoy that challenge. It brings the best out in me.”
Mickelson, 47, won Masters titles in 2004, 2006 and 2010. He won the PGA Championship in 2005 and captured the Open Championship in 2013. A resident of Rancho Santa Fe, California, he has played on 11 Ryder Cup and 11 Presidents Cup teams.
“Fans around the world love Phil’s style of play and the way in which he engages with the people making him the crowd favorite. We are thrilled that he is coming back to play the Safeway Open,” said Sanders. “I think Phil is the most popular player in golf today, around the world. He draws the largest galleries. He engages with the galleries as well as any professional athlete in any sport. He’s just the best at engaging with fans.”
For tickets please visit www.safewayopen.com