Tiger’s eyes on CordeValle

CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin

Tiger Woods’ announcement that he’s headed to San Martin to play
in the Frys.com Open in October is music to many locals’ ears, who
say an appearance by the world’s most famous golfer will bring big
bucks for local charities and businesses. Full story
Today’s breaking news:
Tiger Woods’ announcement that he’s headed to San Martin to play in the Frys.com Open in October is music to many locals’ ears, who say an appearance by the world’s most famous golfer will bring big bucks for local charities and businesses.

“Well, I think to everybody that’s even closely associated with golf, this is like Frank Sinatra coming to your hometown to do a concert,” said Don DeLorenzo, a PGA-certified instructor at the Gilroy Golf Course on Hecker Pass Road. “It’s not like seeing him at the U.S. Open when you’re 40 people deep. Because of the limited amount of tickets, you’re going to be able to see the greatest golfer who’s lived in this last decade. It’s absolutely a chance of a lifetime.”

The world’s most famous golfer said Monday he’ll tee-off at the fifth annual Open, set for Oct. 3-9 at the CordeValle Golf Resort in San Martin. It’s news that’s expected to fuel the spirits of regional golf fans, sending them – and their dollars – on a pilgrimage to the lesser-known links in the unincorporated South County community.

Woods, a Stanford University alumnus, has won 14 PGA major championships, the second most in history behind Jack Nicklaus’ 18. But Woods, 35, hasn’t won a tournament in the last two years, which have been marred by a string of injuries and much-publicized problems in his personal life.

He’s still among the biggest draws in all of sports.

“Anytime you have a big name like Tiger Woods, there’s going to be extra attention paid to the area,” said Jane Howard, executive director of the Gilroy Visitors Bureau. “My first response to the news is, it’s going to be good for us. Restaurants, hotels, shopping – all should see an increase.”

Like last year, all spectators and participants will enter the tournament through Clos LaChance, a local winery whose mouth is watering in anticipation for the crowds Woods is expected to draw.

“Anything that can help bring more people to the tournament makes us happy. He consistently brings in spectators,” said Clos LaChance proprietor Cheryl Durzy. “He’s a local boy, and hopefully he likes wine.”

Following Wood’s announcement Monday morning, tournament officials were already struggling to keep pace with ticket demands.

“Just in a few hours so far, we’ve had ticket sales flowing in,” Tournament Director Ian Knight said.

Woods’ appearance will be his first to the 5-year-old Frys.com Open, which originally was held in Arizona and now takes place roughly 60 minutes south of his alma mater Stanford University.

“I always enjoy competing in my home state, and this tournament fits my schedule perfectly,” Woods said on his website. “I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends.”

Woods has not played since the Aug. 11-14 PGA Championship and recently indicated he might add another PGA Tour event to his schedule before heading to Asia and Australia later in the year.

“John Fry and his company have supported the tour, and I’ve heard good things about the event and the golf course,” Woods said. “One of my goals this year was to participate in a tournament I hadn’t played before, and now, I will.”

CordeValle, with its secluded, country club setting nestled in the Hayes Valley in San Martin, opened in 1999 and in May was ranked by magazine Golf Digest as one of the U.S.’s top 100 public courses.

Battling brisk, rainy conditions, Rocco Mediate edged Alex Prugh and Bo Van Pelt by one stroke at last year’s Frys.com Open.

This time, Durzy said she expects all seven days to be drenched in sunshine.

“We’re due for a really good week (of weather) that week,” she said.

The tournament’s charities are also due for another great year.

Last year’s event generated $800,000 for the American Institute of Mathematics, the Adoption Services of Santa Clara County, the American Cancer Society, Special Olympics and the First Tee of San Jose.

This year, tournament officials say even more money is within reach.

“Before the Tiger announcement, we were hoping to make our $1 million mark, and I’m sure we will do that this year,” said Cathy Brown, the event’s ticket sales manager. “We anticipate a sellout this year, obviously.”

Officials are allowed to sell 15,000 tickets per day during the tournament, Brown said, with last year’s biggest day, a Saturday, topping out around 10,000.

Knight said the 2011 Frys.com Open could launch event to greater heights.

“This can build a foundation for years to come,” he said. “It’s going to drive more spectators, more awareness of the tournament.”

Now that Tiger’s on board, Brown said more top golfers might also sign on in the coming weeks.

“I think we’re going to all be in for a great tournament. We’re off to an excellent start,” she said. “We also expect more top players to commit in September. It’s pretty big stuff.”

DeLorenzo predicted more high-level golfers will make the trek to San Martin with the tournament’s exposure now boosted by Woods’ presence.

“It’s a great thing for golf in this area,” he said. “With Tiger being there, they might say, ‘I was on the fence, but now I’m going to play.'”

The tournament’s purse is $5 million, with the winner slated to earn $900,000.

Tournament brass had been chatting Tiger up about playing in the event for roughly a year, Knight said.

“And Tiger in his own press releases said that he wanted to add a new event,” Knight said. “He’s heard very good things about the tournament.”

Woods has never been to the CordeValle course, though that’s not uncommon for players who sign on, Knight said.

“When you look at someone like Tiger’s schedule, it doesn’t allow much time to test them out. He’s stretched pretty thin,” he said.

The Golf Channel is scheduled to broadcast the Frys.com Open 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 3-9.

Woods missed three months of the 2011 season recovering from injuries to his left knee and Achilles tendon. He will make his ninth official start of the year. He has two top-10 finishes, including a tie for fourth at the Masters.

“It’s been a long time between the PGA and Fry’s, and I’ll be anxious to compete,” Woods said.

Woods and Mediate had a memorable meeting at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in an edge-of-your-seat finale. Following an 18-hole playoff, Woods defeated Mediate on the first hole of sudden death to capture the championship. Mediate announced earlier this month that he will defend his Frys.com Open title.

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