Napa Valley Register article
July 9, 2016 • By Marty James
Stanford’s Maverick McNealy, a two-time Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year and No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, will play in the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open this fall at Silverado Resort and Spa on a special sponsor invitation, Executive Tournament Director Jeff Sanders announced.
The Safeway Open, a $6 million event that kicks off the 2016-17 schedule, will be played Oct. 12-16 on the par-72, 7,203-yard North Course.
This will be the third straight year of the PGA Tour at Silverado, which has a long history of having hosted professional tournament golf, dating back to the late 1960s. The PGA Tour announced last year that Safeway is the new title sponsor of the Safeway Open, formerly known as the Frys.com Open. The five-year agreement runs through 2020 with the event, which is part of the FedExCup schedule, remaining at Silverado for the duration.
McNealy, who is from Portola Valley, will be going into his senior year at Stanford. He has been first-team All-Pac-12 the last two years and as a sophomore was Golfweek All-America first team, PING All-America first team, the Nicklaus Award winner, a Ben Hogan Award finalist, first at the Pac-12 Championships, and first at the NCAA Regional Championships. He also set a school-record for single-season stroke average (69.05).
“Maverick McNealy is a terrific player and role model for young golfers who aspire to be great. His success at Stanford as a top collegiate golfer and top ranked world class amateur earned him a spot in the Safeway Open,” said Sanders, Executive Vice President for Golf Events, Lagardere Sports.
“Maverick, much like our host, Johnny Miller, earned a spot in the field through his outstanding record as a world class amateur from Northern California.”
McNealy is No. 1 in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking and No. 2 in the golfweek.com amateur rankings.
As a freshman, he was selected All-Pac-12 honorable mention and was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team.
He had a big year in 2015, leading the United States to the Palmer Cup title, winning the Northern California Golf Association Match Play Championship after finishing as the event’s stroke play medalist, and reaching the Round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur. He played in two PGA Tour events – finishing tied for 60th at the Greenbrier Classic and finishing tied for 78th at the Barbasol Championship.
His best finish in a PGA Tour event came at the 2016 Arnold Palmer Invitational, when he tied for 46th place. He played on the United States Walker Cup team and tied for second at the Pacific Coast Amateur.
“It’s an incredible opportunity and I’m really thankful to have this spot,” said McNealy. “There’s a lot of great players that could have played and I’m very lucky that it was me that they chose. It’s always a great experience to try and test my game against the best players in the world.
“I’m really looking forward to it. It’s just a really good opportunity to see what I can do. I’m always trying to get better and I’m always trying to improve. When you get to play against the best players in the world, you really get an idea of what you can do better and what those guys do really well.”
McNealy has never played at Silverado.
Sangmoon Bae of the Republic of Korea (2014) and Emiliano Grillo of Argentina (2015) each won at the Frys.com Open at Silverado.
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. A major college women’s tournament, the Silverado Showdown, is played in the springtime here.
Stanford’s season ended with a 28th-place finish at the NCAA Championships in late May at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club. The 2015-16 season for the Cardinal featured three team wins, including a third straight Pac-12 Conference championship.
In May, McNealy was named as one of three finalists for the Ben Hogan Award, given annually to the nation’s top collegiate golfer, as announced by Colonial Country Club, Friends of Golf and the Golf Coaches Association of America. He had four wins during his junior season, including the Western Intercollegiate where he shot a tournament-record 194 (66-64-64).
McNealy is one of the most accomplished players in all of college golf, having won 10 career titles at Stanford.
“The Safeway Open is a great opportunity to see how I can play on one of the bigger stages,” said McNealy.
McNealy will return to Napa in November to play in the Gifford Collegiate Championship, Nov. 6-9 at Silverado. The fall season event is being hosted by UCLA.
CordeValle Golf Club (San Martin, Calif.) was the host of the Gifford Collegiate from 2005-2014. Last year’s event was played at the La Costa Legends Course in Carlsbad, Calif.
McNealy is a management science and engineering major. He is not sure of his immediate plans after college.
“At this point, I’m just focusing on learning what I need to learn, getting good grades, getting my degree, and playing the best golf I can play,” he said.