Fans enjoy Turning Stone Championship

Eventual champion Matt Kuchar hits out of bunker with Atunyote Clubhouse in background. / Photograph by Matt Mulcahy.

Golfer Matt Kuchar took home the top prize of $1,080,000 on the sixth hole of a sudden death playoff at the Turning Stone Resort Championship this morning. Golf fans took home the satisfaction that they saw the tournament through to the end despite challenging weather conditions that had them digging in closets for rain and winter gear. Jeremy Sensenich from Camillus was determined to be at Atunyote when they crowned a winner. He said, "After the rain. Yes, it was tough. Wednesday and Thursday were tough. You got to see it all the way through. Having been through all that. Yeah."

Gregory Babcock was also leaning over the ropes on the 13th tee this morning as Vaughn Taylor prepared to put his ball in play. Babcock is a retired government worker from Canastota. He is an avid golf fan who wanted to cheer for eventual champion Matt Kuchar before hitting his favorite trout stream later in the morning. He said, "I'm just rooting for Matt Kuchar. He was here a couple of years ago and I met him on the range. And he's a pretty nice guy."

A couple hundred people walked with the players as they went head to head through holes 13, 18, 12 and 13 again deciding the match. Mixed among the group were PGA officials, Golf Channel broadcasters, Oneida Nation leaders, volunteers and sponsors. There were just enough people on the course to let out a collective groan when Kuchar missed a three foot potential winning putt on the first hole of the morning. There was also a large enough crowd to let out a big cheer when he drained a 25 footer for birdie on 18 to press the match ahead.

After the playoff runner up Vaughn Taylor complimented the event, the course and the fans saying, "This is a great tournament. I love coming here. The course is wonderful. Pristine condition. The fans are great. Everything about the tournament is fabulous. Top notch." That perspective from the players has turned this tournament into perhaps the most desirable on the PGA's fall swing.

When asked about the potential for moving the tournament to a summer date Tournament Director Ann Spencer said, "I'm hopeful and optimistic." Oneida Representative Ray Halbritter went further in his comments following the trophy presentation explaining to the small crowd that he has made a lot of deals before and is trying to make one more to get a prized summer time date when the weather is more reliable in Upstate New York.