The true highlights of the NB3 Foundation annual golf event came less on the course and more among the ropes where the PGA Tour players interacted with young fans. I walked the course with these world class golfers in this exhibition event at the Atunyote golf club at Turning Stone Resort. The relaxed nature of the charitable event allowed the players to say yes, over and over again, to the children and adults asking for them to autograph their golf hats, pin flags and programs.
The atmosphere was so relaxed in this best ball format that the foursome of Jonas Blixt, Jhonataan Vegas, Patrick Reed and Eric Compton had to spice up the competition on the second tee with a $100 Nassau bet. Vegas immediately responded with a monster drive and birdie to take the lead. Compton pulled his drive in the left rough leading him to tell his partner Reed that he was on his own on this hole. Compton still stuck his long iron and salvaged par.
Former major winners like Angel Cabrera and Louis Oosthuizen played with Ryder Cupper Jimmy Walker and tournament host Notah Begay. Just like the other foursome they took time on every walk from tee to green to pull out the Sharpie and sign. Attendance at the event was light. But, if you were among those who turned out you could listen in on conversations and enjoy the banter between players.
We talked with the players before the round. They filled in details of their incredible life stories. Oosthuizen recalled his double eagle on number 2 at the Masters. Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed showed their obvious excitement on earning their Ryder Cup bids. Angel Cabrera had his interpreter explain how golf in Argentina still is not popular. Eric Compton topped them all.
Compton is a two time recipient of a heart transplant. He still finished second at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst this year. He told me how he feels he may be better suited to deal with the adrenalin rush of pressure because he lives every day managing his body as he takes twenty pills to avoid organ rejection and remain healthy.
Then there's Notah Begay himself. The four time tour event winner is now a full time analyst for NBC and the Golf Channel. In the seven years of hosting his charitable event he has grown in his maturity and ability to articulate the importance of teaching Native American children about healthy lifestyles. He should be proud of his accomplishments off the course.
On this day he should also be proud of his accomplishments on the course. The assembled group of world class players made for a memorable day for the intimate crowd who followed along.
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