VERONA, N.Y. (WKTV) - When it was announced that the Turning Stone Resort Championship wouldn't be returning to the PGA Tour schedule this year, golf fans all over Central New York were wondering what would fill the void. The Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge stepped up and delivered with two superstar NFL quarterbacks, plus the return of Tiger Woods.
Ray Halbritter, the Oneida Nation Representative, talked to the media Tuesday at the Turning Stone Resort, right after a press release was sent out, announcing Woods, fellow PGA Tour star Rickie Fowler, as well as Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys and Sam Bradford of the St. Louis Rams.
"There's a lot of fans, not just golf fans, but football fans that are going to be able to have the opportunity to see these fellows locally," Halbritter said. "We're just glad we're in the position the economically be able to present an event like this to benefit the whole region. It's exciting for everybody, i think we're going to have a lot of fun."
Since winning this event two years ago, Woods, who used to be the top ranked golfer in the world, has fallen on hard times, between an injury and the media frenzy surrounding his divorce. He hasn't won on Tour since November 2009, just a few months after his win at the NB3 Challenge, so coming back to the Atunyote could be just what the doctor ordered.
"He did pretty good last time he was here and I think Tiger's just on the cusp of really doing something, he's there," says Halbritter. "He's second and third and we're all disappointed, why didn't he win it."
While Tiger is the headliner, it's his former roommate, Begay, that's the heart and soul of the event.
"He's doing wonderful work and we're just happy to be a part of it. If we can advance the development of healing, that's really what we're hoping to do, but of course, we're going to have a great time doing it," says Halbritter.
Proceeds from the event go towards raising money and awareness for the improved health and wellness of Native American youth, specifically targeting obesity.
Tuesday's announcement is just the beginning of what should be an exciting build up to the event on July 5th. Without the PGA, this will be the premiere golf event in Central N.Y. in 2011.