Lefty set to play in event at Sil­ver­ado

San Francisco Chronicle - - SPORTING GREEN - By Ron Kroichick Ron Kroichick is a San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle staff writer. Email: rkroichick@ sfchron­i­cle.com Twit­ter: @ronkroichick

Five-time ma­jor cham­pion Phil Mick­el­son has com­mit­ted to play­ing in this year’s Safe­way Open, the re­named PGA Tour event set for Oct. 13-16 at Sil­ver­ado Re­sort in Napa.

His com­mit­ment gives the tour­na­ment a jolt of star power. Mick­el­son re­mains one of golf ’s most pop­u­lar and rec­og­niz­able play­ers, even if he hasn’t won in nearly three years, since the 2013 Bri­tish Open.

This will be his first time play­ing in the event for­merly known as the Frys.com Open. Mick­el­son still brings no­table his­tory in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, with four vic­to­ries in the AT&T Peb­ble Beach Pro-Am.

“I look for­ward to play­ing in the first Safe­way Open,” he said in a state­ment re­leased by tour­na­ment of­fi­cials. “Amy and I love go­ing to Napa, and now we have an even bet­ter rea­son to spend a week with the play­ers and their wives.”

Mick­el­son, 46, has had an up-and-down sea­son in 2016. He has posted five top-five fin­ishes, in­clud­ing sec­ond place in the events at Peb­ble Beach and Mem­phis, but he also missed the cut in the Masters and U.S. Open.

That rep­re­sents the first time in Mick­el­son’s ca­reer he has missed the cut in both of those ma­jors. He’s ranked 20th in the world.

The Frys-turned-Safe­way has strug­gled to at­tract top play­ers in its six years in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia (four at CordeValle and the past two at Sil­ver­ado). Rory McIl­roy and Justin Rose were among the marquee play­ers in last year’s field, an event won by tour rookie Emil­iano Grillo.

“The fact that Phil hasn’t played in Napa, it’s go­ing to help us take our event to the next level,” tour­na­ment ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Jeff San­ders said. “He’s a fan fa­vorite in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, and we’re ex­cited to have him.”

Michael Ma­cor / The Chron­i­cle 2014

Phil Mick­el­son, seen at the 2014 Peb­ble Beach Na­tional Pro-Am, will play in the PGA event in Napa for the first time.

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