Woods’ intensity comes through at Turning Stone charity event

Smile, Tiger. Have some fun.

Smile, Tiger. Have some fun.

Although numerous Capital Region golfing fans thoroughly enjoyed the multiple talents displayed by Tiger Woods in the third annual Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge at Turning Stone Resort’s Atunyote Golf Club, Woods took his usual serious approach.

The world’s No. 1-ranked player smiled occasionally and chatted from time to time with Begay, his good buddy and former college roommate at Stanford. But when it was time for him to swing a club or make a putt, Woods was all business. That intimidating glare of his burned through the humid air all afternoon.

Woods, the main reason why more than 3,500 spectators showed up at this charity event to help fight Type II diabetes in Native Americans, won the NB3 Challenge with nine skins worth $230,000. Camilo Villegas, the event’s defending champion, finished second with eight skins and $200,000, while tournament host Begay won the final skin on the 18th hole, good for $70,000. Lefty Mike Weir, eight-time winner on tour, including the 2003 Masters, was shut out for the second straight year.

Skins is a format where the low score on a hole wins the money. If there is a tie, the “skin” carries over to the next hole. The first six holes were worth $10,000, and the next six were worth $20,000. Holes 13-17 were worth $50,000, and the final hole was worth $70,000. All the $500,000 was donated back to Begay’s fund. In fact, more than $1 million was raised for charity.

“Today was incredible,” said Woods, who was playing Atunyote Golf Club for the first time. “The whole thing was to come here and bring awareness to what Notah is trying to do. It’s not just Americans who are struggling with it, but all kids, Native Amer­icans in particular, who are fighting Type II diabetes and obesity.

“It’s great to see what he’s doing, to see him put his heart, soul and passion into something like this, his focus, and bring this many people together to help them understand and educate the public, so therefore, he can do more in the future.”

Although the skins format usually calls for numerous “gimme” puts, it took more than five hours to complete. There was a lot of grinding going on by all four players, although only Woods and Villegas appeared on the top of their games.

“It was wet. It was very soft,” said Woods of the 7,315-yard Atunyote Golf Club layout, which will host its third consecutive Turning Stone Resort Classic in October.

Area fans were thrilled to see the 33-year-old Woods, who has 70 wins on the PGA Tour, including 14 majors.

“This is great,” said Rotterdam’s Nick Longo. “I got right up close on the third hole, and I got a chance to see Tiger swing.”

“I’ve never seen Tiger Woods play before,” said Jerry Brescia, a Union College graduate and chir­opractor from Schenectady. “I would say the price was worth it, but I’m not sure I would do it again. It was just a great chance to see Tiger Woods play.”

Brescia invested in the two-day package, priced at more than $600. Included was a room for the night, the opportunity to play another course at Turning Stone, a meal at a restaurant and a gift package. One-day packages cost $330.

Don Cramer, an off-ice official for the Union College hockey team for the last 15 years and a member of Ballston Spa Country Club, said he couldn’t miss a chance to see Tiger Woods play so close to home.

“This is the first time we’ve got the chance to see him in person, and we wouldn’t miss it,” he said.


Syracuse University basketball coach Jim Boeheim was on hand, and walked inside the ropes with the players. “His mental toughness and focus is what defines him,” said Boeheim of Woods. “Tiger and Michael Jordan are the most focused athletes I’ve ever seen.”

Woods, who rarely participates in special charity events, was asked why he chose to compete in this one. “Notah called me, and I’d do anything for him.”

Among the notables present were Shaker Ridge Country Club standout Mike Wheeler, Town of Colonie standout Dave Pallas and former Edison Club member Perry Noun, who now lives in Central New York.

Categories: Schenectady County

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