Sep 22, 2009 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Technically, the Turning Stone Resort Championship as the start of the PGA Tour’s “Fall Series”. But the previous two editions of this event have betrayed the title.
When Kentucky left-hander Steve Flesch won the inaugural tournament in 2007, warm sunshine bathed the entire week of play, and temperatures inched near 90 degrees.
But when Dustin Johnson earned his first-ever Tour win in 2008, cold conditions prevailed, especially in the first round, which felt closer to winter. Even some sleet fell.
So what to expect now, when 126 of the world’s best golfers tee off Thursday morning at Atunyote Golf Club?
Both Johnson and Flesch will be in the field, as will John Rollins, who won the last B.C. Open when it was moved to Turning Stone in the summer of 2006.
Since winning 12 months ago, Johnson added a second title at Pebble Beach in February and worked his way to the PGA Tour playoffs and the final event, the Tour Championship, reserved for only the top 30 money-winners.
Other than Johnson, three other players who made the Tour Championship – Brian Gay, Marc Leishman and Steve Marino, are scheduled to head here straight from Atlanta.
Flesch, by contrast, has not won since Atunyote in 2007, and is looking to recover from a subpar season. He’s not alone in that quest, as the field this year includes all kinds of interesting names.
Having struggled throughout 2009, Adam Scott, once one of the world’s top-ranked players, is coming to Atunyote in advance of his appearance on the International team for the President’s Cup in San Francisco later this month.
Adding to the international flavor is Indian star Jeev Milkha Singh, Australians Stuart Appleby and Robert Allenby, and Korean K.J. Choi.
Also, Corey Pavin, who will captain the United States Ryder Cup team in 2010 in Wales, will play. He’s joined by fellow veteran Rocco Mediate, who gained worldwide fame in 2008 by taking Tiger Woods to a 19-hole playoff in the United States Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego.
On an Atunyote course that can stretch out to 7,480 yards, J.B. Holmes could have a big advantage. The two-time winner in Phoenix, who played in the 2008 Ryder Cup, has been known for 400-yard drives.
Also in the field is Notah Begay III, who has hosted an annual charity event at Atunyote for his foundation to benefit Native American youth. This year’s event on Aug. 24 featured an appearance by Tiger Woods, his one-time teammate at Stanford University, plus Mike Weir and Camillo Villegas.
The purse is $6 million, by far the largest of the Fall Series, with $1.08 million to the winner. Players will be scrambling to reach the top 125 on the money list and be exempt for the 2010 season
Many events will coincide with the tournament. The Oct. 1 opening round has been designated National Breast Cancer Awareness Day, with spectators encouraged to wear pink and cancer survivors serving as hole marshals. Breast cancer survivors will get free admission. Country star Trace Adkins will have a concert that same night at the Turning Stone Event Center.
During the third round on Oct. 3, spectators are encouraged to wear Syracuse University Orange clothing, and a Jumbotron screen near the clubhouse will be showing the SU football Homecoming game against South Florida.
Advance-sale tickets are $25 per day, $35 on the day of the tournament. They can be found at www.turningstonechampionship.com.