SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Frys.com Open has camped at Grayhawk Golf Course until its home course in California is ready.
Mike Weir has heard good things about the event’s future home at the Institute Golf Course in Morgan Hill, Calif. But after winning the inaugural Frys.com Open in 2007 and finishing in a fourth-place tie last year, Weir is happy the tournament has at least one more year in the desert.
“You still hate to see it leave here,” Weir said on Wednesday. “I love coming here.”
Two years ago, Weir joined dozens of Canadian fans for an impromptu toast outside the media center after his one-stroke victory over Mark Hensby. Weir celebrated his first tour victory in three years – and he hasn’t won since.
“It’s been a little bit of a drought again,” said Weir, whose best finishes this season were third in the Bob Hope Classic in January and second at Pebble Beach the following month.
This is the third year the Frys.com Open has been played on the par-70, 7,125-yard Raptor Course as part of the PGA Tour’s Fall Series. Victories and earnings in the five fall events count on tour records and in the world golf rankings.
There’s a $5 million purse, with the winner taking home $900,000.
Scottsdale is one of only two cities, along with Orlando, that hosts two PGA tour events. In February, TPC Scottsdale is home to the FBR Open, the tour’s most heavily attended tournament.
But the struggling economy has put a squeeze on Scottsdale’s two events.
The FBR Open, formerly called the Phoenix Open, is seeking a new sponsor after FBR announced it would not renew its deal after 2010.
Meanwhile, the Frys.com Open is “year-to-year” at Grayhawk, tournament director Scott Reid said. The Institute won’t be ready to host the event in 2010, he said, and organizers will consider other cities as potential hosts.
“I think that Grayhawk would continue to host this event if we wanted to stay,” Reid said. “But I think we’re just kind of going to evaluate the opportunities that might be in another market that doesn’t have a PGA Tour event already.”
The Frys.com Open drew 35,450 last year, up about 8,000 from its first year as word spread about the event. The Frys.com Open doesn’t draw the same partying throngs as the FBR Open, but that can be a bonus for golf fans.
“We feel like we’re more of a true golf-fans event,” Reid said. “It’s more about the golf tournament, seeing the players and seeing the golf than it is about being seen.”
This year’s tournament has attracted some big names in the field of 132, including Fred Couples, David Duval and Justin Leonard.
Some golfers, like Couples, Tom Lehman and Tim Clark, are playing because the course is in their neighborhood.
“They can sleep in their own bed and still play for a $5 million pursue,” Reid said.
For others, the tourney represents a chance to move up on the money list.
“You’ve still got stuff to play for,” Clark said. “A win is big. It does a lot for you.”
Just ask defending champion Cameron Beckman.
Beckman entered last year’s Frys.com Open ranked 176th on the money list and 447th in the world. He had skipped eight weeks because of back problems and was in danger of losing his tour card.
But Beckman defeated Kevin Sutherland on the second playoff hole to earn his second career victory.
Beckman’s only other tour win had come in 2001, in the Southern Farm Bureau Classic. In between victories, Beckman had to go back to Q school twice. Thanks to his victory here last year, Beckman has an exemption through 2010.
“I went through some tour schools in between (victories) and had some rough years,” the 39-year-old Beckman said. “For some of us, if you’re not playing well, you’re trying to keep a job.”