I was watching the Golf Channel recently, and they were running a story about the 2000 Greater Hartford Open.
The winner of that tournament was a childhood friend of mine, Notah Begay.
Begay’s victory that week was his second straight PGA Tour victory and his fourth overall.
Begay had a remarkable stretch from 1999-2000. He won four tournaments and made the cut in all four majors in 2000.
Without question, it was the greatest run of his professional career. Since that time, Begay has become a familiar face on the Golf Channel, ESPN and NBC Sports’ golf coverage.
I’ve known Begay since I was ten years old.
We grew up together in New Mexico, and, eventually, we became junior golf rivals. Begay was from Albuquerque, while I was from Las Cruces. The towns were over 200 miles from each other, but our paths crossed regularly in tournaments.
I must admit that my initial opinion of Begay was one of intimidation. He was an overly confident junior golfer, and his attitude was quite different than mine.
To his credit, he also won quite a few more tournaments than I did because of this inner confidence he possessed.
As we grew older, our rivalry continued into high school.
New Mexico high schools were categorized in two ways. Smaller high schools were considered AAA, while larger high schools were AAAA. Triple A and Quad A is what we called them back then.
Begay was acknowledged as the top AAA golfer in the state, while I became the top AAAA player in the state. Eventually, we had an opportunity to travel to a few national tournaments together representing the top high school golfers from New Mexico.
Upon graduating from high school, Begay was awarded a scholarship to Stanford, while I accepted a scholarship from the University of New Mexico. Many of you may know that Begay eventually became the mentor and best friend of Tiger Woods at Stanford.
Pretty cool if you ask me.
The reason behind this story is that Begay has had an incredible career in golf, and I was fortunate to have competed against him at a very early age. He has gone on to establish the NB III Foundation.
The goal of the foundation is to provide health and wellness education to Native American youth in the form of soccer and golf programs.
Nice job, Notah, you have done well.