NAPA, CA – Not Phil Mickelson is the only World Golf Hall of Fame missing from this year’s Fortinet Championship. The event is also Miller lite – as in Johnny Miller.
The two-time main winner and retired chief golf analyst for NBC Sports has served as a tournament ambassador since helping attract the event here in 2014, appearing on telecasts and taking part in Sunday’s trophy ceremony. It has become one of the few times Miller, 75, has made public appearances since retiring from NBC in 2019.
Why the change? Primarily because Miller is no longer an owner at the Silverado Resort, the tournament’s host track, after being involved in a lawsuit. Miller bought a 30.6 percent stake in a limited partnership that bought the popular resort in 2010 and sold the historic property, which includes two courses for Robert Trent Jones Jr. – North and South – in February.
When Miller first stepped onto the property to compete in the 1968 Kaiser International Open on the PGA Tour as an amateur, he had a feeling there was something special about the place.
Miller once said, “I loved the country, the courses, the open fields, the smells.” “You felt at home.”
So much so that after they became professionals and married his wife Linda, they honeymooned in a Silverado in an apartment.
“One thing led to another, and we bought an apartment the following year on the sixth lane of the north track, and then built a house in 1974 on the lake (at No. 11),” said Miller, who won the championship there the following year. 1974 and 1975, and fathered five of his six children in Napa.
In 2010, the Silverado entered the market and the Miller Company entered into a resort-and-spa purchase partnership with Roger Kent, founder of Rug Doctor, who built the original machine in his garage and sold the company in 2007 after building it with $300 million in revenue. The San Francisco Chronicle It reported that the resort’s price was “well above $20 million” — discounting the post-housing bubble from the $110 million former Japanese owners paid in 1989 — and then Miller and the company proceeded to convert it. “I saw what a Silverado could become,” Miller said at the time.
The White Mansion, overlooking Millliken Creek, is the centerpiece of the 1,200-acre property, with a lounge inside (and a media room during the Fortinet Championship). Miller breathed new life into the 36-hole complex in what he described as the first course he redesigned himself, and has hosted the inaugural PGA Tour season championship since 2014. Miller served as the unofficial face of the resort during the event.
But in 2020, Kent sued Miller and his associates in a $50 million lawsuit claiming that his partners had “committed fraud, breach of contract, negligence, and misconduct with oppression and malice,” and that the resort was in a financial “stalemate” form. As first reported by the Napa Valley Register, the complaint said the resort would soon be “insolvent” and had “significant negative working capital.”
The subsidiaries of Colorado-based KSL Capital Partners LLC, a private equity firm specializing in travel and leisure businesses, and Arcade Capital LLC of New York, a private real estate investment firm specializing in the management of global hotels and leisure spaces, announced on Feb. One joint press release stating that they acquired the property. Terms were not disclosed, but Napa Valley Record It reported that the sales price was $62.4 million.
Miller will miss the tournament. A Golf Channel spokesperson said there are no plans for Miller to join the broadcast this week as he usually does and tournament organizers confirmed that coming Sunday when the trophy is delivered, it won’t be Miller’s time to do the honors. He had it in the past. All that remains are the touches he made for the course and the Champ Bridge plaque honoring Miller’s father, Larry, who named his son “Champ”.