Golfers make summer return to Turning Stone

Barely 10 months after Matt Kuchar beat Vaughn Taylor in their two-day, six-hole playoff to win the Turning Stone Resort Championship, the show is on again.

A host of changes mark the fourth edition of this PGA Tour event at the Turning Stone resort's Atunyote Golf Club in Verona, and the biggest of them is the new date -- summer, instead of autumn.

Each of the last three years, the tournament was played in late September-early October as part of the PGA Tour's Fall Series. It intended to spotlight the fall colors that start to emerge in Central New York at that time of the year.

But after a warm and dry inaugural event in 2007, harsh weather hit in the early rounds both in 2008 and 2009, including high winds, cold temperatures and various forms of precipitation, from rain to sleet. It knocked down attendance and nearly jeopardized the tournament's future.

From the time this event was started, Oneida Nation CEO Ray Halbritter had pushed for a better date on the Tour schedule, which could draw more star players to complement those that had shown up and had raved about the course and the whole tournament experience.

In the end, Halbritter got half of his wish.

An opening in the Tour's schedule arose for the first full weekend of August, and Turning Stone grabbed it, which was the good part.

"The players can leave their snow caps at home," said Notah Begay III, official Turning Stone ambassador, who is playing on a sponsor's exemption.

However, most of the big names in golf will be in Akron, Ohio, competing in the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, preparing for next week's PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

Still, a field of 132 players will tackle Atunyote, which stretches out to 7,482 yards and a par of 72 and should play much firmer and faster than it did the previous two years.

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