After a decade off, Notah Begay III is about to write a new chapter in his golf career.
“The old guy is trying to fire it up again,” Begay told PGATour.com
Begay, a four-time PGA Tour winner and once a top-20 player in the world, had back-to-back victories in 2000 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic and then the Canon Greater Hartford Open. But those would be his last.
His last Tour start came at the Reno-Tahoe Open in August 2012. That year, he played in five events and missed the cut in all of them. His final PGA Tour-sanctioned start was the PGA Tour Canada’s Dakota Dunes Open in 2013 (MC). Back injuries cut his playing days short and he has since become one of Golf Channel’s top analysts.
However, turning 50 on Sept. 14, Begay eyes a return to competitive golf on the PGA Tour Champions.
“I’ve lost 10 or 12 pounds, really elevated my training, and people have been great,” Begay said.
Until the senior tour’s Constellation Furyk & Friends in October, Begay is trying to get as many competitive rounds under his belt as possible. And his first in nearly 10 years came earlier this week in an APGA Tour event at TPC Scottsdale. Begay shot 72-74 in the two-day event and finished T-20, eight shots behind winner Michael Herrera.
“I mean, even if I played my very best right now,” Begay said, “I couldn’t come close to beating most of the players out there.”
Though Begay is very busy nowadays working for Golf Channel, running his NB3 Foundation and being a husband and father to three kids, he says, “believe it or not, there are some windows,” in working towards a return to play.
He plans to play in the Nebraska State Open and a tournament in New Mexico called the San Juan Open. He’s considering teeing it up with the APGA again at TPC San Antonio in early August. And he penciled himself in for U.S. Open local qualifying at the New Mexico State course in Las Cruces.
“If I’m lucky, I’ll get to sectionals,” he said, “36 holes of competition, which is so valuable to me.”
Begay, a college teammate of Tiger Woods and part of Stanford’s 1994 national championship team, says his back is “not getting better but it’s not getting worse.” And that, along with a few other factors, will determine how many stabs he’ll take at notching a victory that would be more than 22 years in the making.
“Trainers on Tour have been great with offering guidance,” he said. “Instructors, I pick their brains. Chris Como has been great. I’ll send him video and he’ll say, ‘Try this.’ My old coach, Bryan Gathright, has been great. I don’t know where this is going to go; it’ll come down to do I have the nerve to play at that level.”