Tiger rallies late, wins at Atunyote

No way was Tiger Woods going to finish second this time.

Faced with that unsatisfying conclusion, the world's most famous golfer made his rare Central New York appearance count, using three consecutive birdies down the stretch to overtake Camillo Villegas and win the Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge Monday at the Turning Stone Resort's Atunyote Golf Club.

This was the second edition of Begay's charity event for his NB3 foundation, which supports Native American youth sports and wellness programs. Woods, Villegas (who won the inaugural event in 2008) and Canadian star Mike Weir joined Begay in the field.

More than 3,000 golf fans came out to Atunyote to catch a glimpse of Woods, in his first golf action since his runner-up finish to Y.E. Yang at the PGA Championship eight days earlier. It marked the first time in 15 tries that Woods had not won a major when leading after 54 holes.

Rarely does Woods attend one-day charity exhibitions. But Begay is a long-time friend, and a teammate when both attended Stanford University in the mid-1990s. That, said Woods, was reason alone to do this event.

"When he called and asked me, I said of course I'm going to do it," Woods said. "What he (Begay) has done for Native American causes is unheard of. That's something dear to his heart."

They would play for $500,000 worth of skins - $10,000 for the first six holes, $20,000 for the next six holes, $50,000 for holes 13 through 17 and $70,000 on the 18th hole.

Right from the start, crowds lined the holes from tee to green -- and the next hole, too, all looking for their close-up glimpse of Woods and his playing partners.

What they saw, at the start, was uneven. Woods won the first skin of $20,000 on the 2nd hole with a par when both Weir and Villegas hit poor bunker shots and Begay three-putted.

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