VERONA One of the media types asked Notah Begay III if he and his partner, one Tiger Woods, were here to win the fifth annual NB3 Foundation Challenge.
Begay looked at Woods and said, Were here to win. Right?
To which Woods simply stared at his former college roommate and longtime friend and gave Begay that determined look that only Tiger can give.
I guess that means yes, Begay joked. Tiger doesnt like to lose at anything.
And he didnt. With the Begay-Woods duo winning its match by two shots, the East team of all Americans beat the West squad of South Koreans and Taiwanese star Yani Tseng 2 ½ to ½.
Woods and six other PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players were here at Atunyote Golf Club to support Begays foundation that targets juvenile diabetes and obesity in the Native American community.
Yet, the competitive side of the players couldnt be hidden as they talked about what the day was like.
When you put the peg in the ground, its competitive, said Woods, who was here for the third time and was paired with his Stanford buddy again. But at the end of the day, its more important that we raise money for this cause than what we shot. But I expected Notah to make eight or nine birdies anyway.
Begay, in fact, made five birdies and Tiger had four en route to the win over the South Korean duo of K.J. Choi and Y.E. Yang.
More than 4,000 Central New York golf fans came to the Turning Stone Resort course on a spectacular late-summer day to see the gathering of world-class players.
The American team of Gary Woodland and Christie Kerr beat Danny Lee and Se Re Pak minus-8 to minus-7 in the first foursome.
Ricky Fowler and his partner, teenage sensation Lexi Thompson, tied Tseng and Charlie Wi at minus-7 when Thompson birdied the final hole.
The biggest crowd, as expected however, filled the gallery for the Woods/Begay group, cheering Tigers every shot.
Woods, the 14-time major champion, was very loose and smiling a lot, mainly due to the fact that his friendship with Begay dates back some 25 years when they played junior golf together in California.
Notah is like a big brother for me. Hes always been there, Woods said. We talk a lot and the first thing that always comes up is if Im going to come back here and play with him. In addition, hes been a great mentor and just a solid friend who I can count on no matter what.
In this day and age when Tigers time is so valuable, his continued support of Begays foundation and tournament is noteworthy.
With all the golf hes played the last two months, he could be off practicing or resting today, Begay said. This is the only non-PGA event he has played the last couple of years, so were eternally grateful that he is willing to take some time to be here.
The event Wednesday raised $500,000 for the foundation.
Tigers game looked on track with the second round of the FedExCup Playoffs kicking off Friday in Boston.
He drove the ball long and straight on Atunyotes generous fairways, hit some superb approach shots and putted reasonably well.
Just to play a relaxed round is fun with all the golf weve had to play since the British Open, Woods said. I was able to work on a couple of things today that should benefit me later this week.
The highlight of Woodss day was a 40-foot curling birdie putt on the par-4 seventh hole.
He began the day with a birdie-3 on No. 1, he birdied the par-4 11th hole, and canned a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 13.
Afterward, Woods pronounced his game in fine shape.
The most important thing this year is that Ive been able to put in the practice time, then translate that to the course with some consistency, he said. Ive won three times, so thats always good. And Ive come close in three of the four majors, so a shot or two there has been the difference.
Begays assessment of his partners game was positive. Hes not quite as long as before (although he was outdriving the other three players by 30 or 40 yards a hole), but hes hitting the ball straighter and crisper, Begay said. I like the things hes done with his swing and it looks like hes finally comfortable with the changes hes made.
Woods said hes looking forward to the end of the FedExCup playoffs, and especially the Ryder Cup, outside of Chicago the end of September.
That really gets my juices flowing, he said. Usually by that time of the year youre really tired. But the Ryder Cup makes you want to practice and play a lot longer.