Jul 04, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Tiger Woods, arguably the world’s most famous athlete, is on his way to Central New York.
Though the official announcement was not made until Monday, Woods’ agent confirmed Friday that he will participate in the second annual Notah Began III Foundation Challenge, on Aug. 24 at Atunyote Golf Club in Verona.
Late last summer, Begay held his inaugural charity skins game at Atunyote and did quite well, raising $180,000 for his foundation to help Native American youths across the country. A quartet of top golfers – Vijay Singh, Camillo Villegas, Mike Weir and Stewart Cink — joined Begay for the event.
Begay wanted Woods, his former teammate at Stanford University, to play. But that had to be scratched when Woods had season-ending knee surgery in June 2008, just after he beat Rocco Mediate in a 19-hole playoff at the United States Open.
Woods recuperated, then returned to action in February and has already won three times in 2009, adding top-10 finishes at both major tournaments.
Playing golf since before he could walk, Woods first appeared on television at age 2, swinging a club on the “Mike Douglas Show”. A golf prodigy, he won three consecutive U.S. Junior Amateur titles, then three straight U.S. Amateur championships, from 1991 to ’96.
Upon turning professional, Woods immediately took over the golf world, becoming the first player with African-American origins to win any major title when he took the 1997 Masters by a record 12 shots.
From there, the wins and honors kept piling up, including a stretch from 2000 to ’01 where Woods claimed all four major championships in a row, called the “Tiger Slam”. Any time he appears at a tournament, attendance shoots up, as do TV ratings.
Woods currently sits third all-time on the PGA Tour wins list, trailing only Sam Snead and Jack Nicklaus. He has 14 professional majors — four Masters, four PGA Championships, three U.S. Open and three British Open titles, four behind Nicklaus.
With his immense fame and fortune (Sports Illustrated has him as America’s top-earning athlete, with nearly $100 million a year in earnings and endorsements), Woods has started the Tiger Woods Foundation, designed to give educational opportunities to children, which has a learning center in his native Southern California.
Annually on Fourth of July Weekend, Woods hosts a PGA Tour event, the AT&T National, which honors men and women in the armed forces — something Woods knew well because his late father, Earl, was a Green Beret in the U.S. Army. Woods won that tournament on Sunday afternoon, beating Hunter Mahan by one shot.
As to the men Woods will play with at Atunyote, Begay is the lone Native American on the PGA Tour and has won four times. Villegas won twice late in 2008 after appearing at Atunyote, and Weir remains the only Canadian-born player to win a major, the 2003 Masters.