McIlroy delays Haiti trip to play Valero Texas Open
At approximately 4:30 p.m. EDT, Good Friday for Larson Segerdahl, executive director of the Valero Texas Open, officially became great.
That’s when World No. 2 Rory McIlroy committed to play in next week’s PGA Tour event in San Antonio.
“This is a phenomenal Friday,” Segerdahl said.
McIlroy originally was scheduled to take the week off before the Masters and make a humanitarian mission to Haiti, but after struggling to make the cut at the Shell Houston Open, he began to waver.
“I think the stars just aligned for us where he’s looking to get a few extra reps before Augusta, and fortunately we’re right before it,” Segerdahl said.
San Antonio’s gain is Haiti’s loss. McIlroy has postponed his trip to Haiti, his agent, Colin Morrissey, confirmed, on Saturday.
McIlroy spent two days in Haiti in 2011, shortly after he blew the 54-hole lead at that year’s Masters, to see the devastation caused by the earthquake that rocked the country in 2010. McIlroy, a UNICEF ambassador, promised to reschedule his visit.
“I am a strong supporter of UNICEF’s work,” McIlroy said. “We are currently looking at dates to reschedule my trip and I look forward to visiting Haiti very soon.”
McIlroy’s last-minute entry into the final event before the Masters caught nearly everyone by surprise. Even in his press conference after the second round, McIlroy gave no indication he was having second thoughts, referring to the Shell Houston Open as his final start before the Masters in two weeks.
And yet before the sun set later that day, the efforts of Valero Texas Open officials paid off in spades. Segerdahl had maintained regular contact with Morrissey, one of McIlroy’s agents at Horizon Sports Management. Greg Norman, whose production company manages the Valero Texas Open, also had spoken to McIlroy on the tournament’s behalf.
Segerdahl said the tournament’s long-shot hopes improved on Friday afternoon when McIlroy’s agent called and said he would give a final answer within an hour. Players have until 5 p.m. EDT to commit. A half-hour before the deadline, McIlroy’s management company confirmed that he would be playing.
“It was right down to the wire,” Segerdahl said. “Now we’re getting ready for the impact Rory might have.”
McIlroy is scheduled to make his first appearance at the AT&T Oaks course, joining a field that already was expected to include Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter, Jim Furyk and Charl Schwartzel among the notables.