Begay says Tiger to vie in ’16 event

Notah Begay III. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA ANA PUEBLO – As arguably the most recognized athlete in the world, Tiger Woods’ presence can turn any event into a smashing success.

And the PGA Tour superstar is ready to do just that for longtime pal Notah Begay III.

On Friday, Begay told the Journal that Woods has committed to play in the Rio Grande Charity Slam in 2016. Begay also made the announcement to the participants and sponsors of his inaugural event at Friday’s awards ceremony after the tournament at Santa Ana Golf Club.

“Tiger is committed to everything we’re doing,” Begay said of his ex-Stanford teammate. “Right now, we’re in the process of making sure we can put an event together that brings Tiger to the state of New Mexico in two years. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and it’s well within reach. We’ll certainly need the help of people in Albuquerque and around the state. But he’s committed to making it happen.”

The event is a fundraiser for the Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque and Begay’s NB3 Foundation.

“If Tiger’s involved, all of a sudden it becomes more than just the premier event in New Mexico. It will become just a premier event, period,” said Mike Putnam of Consolidated Solar Technologies, which is the title sponsor for the first three years. “It will be a very big promotion for golf in New Mexico, Notah’s Foundation, the JCC and everything about our state.”

Derek Gutierrez, director of golf at the Santa Ana Golf Corp., said: “Anytime you have Tiger involved in anything, he’s obviously going to bring out the masses. He has been great for the game, and that has not changed in all his years as a professional. When Tiger decides to participate, it only makes it that much more prestigious.”