Remember Me Begay Back at Honda

By Golf Channel NewsroomMarch 13, 2003, 5:00 pm
Two years ago, Notah Begay walked from green to tee in a practice round at the Honda Classic and declared himself ready for a comeback after a lower-back injury had sidelined him for five weeks.
 
Im about 70-75 percent, he said at the time. Im at a point where I can at least go day in and day out without hurting it.
 
But hurt it he did. He missed two months after the Masters, and another two after the U.S. Open, before abruptly ending his season the first week of September.
 
It all started with Begay trying to improve upon back-to-back multiple win seasons. He worked too hard in the off-season, injuring his back in December 2000.
 
He has yet to return to form, but occasionally, there are glimmers of hope ' such as Thursday.
 
Begay tied a career best, shooting 63 to earn a share of the lead as play was suspended due to inclement weather.
 
I feel great, Begay said. I really feel confident about my abilities.
 
Begay is knotted at 9-under par with Justin Leonard and last years Q-School medallist Jeff Brehaut. Last weeks runner-up, Jim Furyk, John Senden and Esteban Toledo are one back after a trio of 64s.
 
Chris Riley, who played alongside Begay Thursday, had a 7-under 65, as did David Peoples. Bob Estes was also at 7-under through 17 holes when the horn sounded with thunderstorms in the horizon.
 
Thirty-eight players will return Friday morning to complete their opening rounds.
 
Begay, who started on the back nine, made four straight birdies on holes 14-17, and after a par at the 18th, put together five more on Nos. 1-5.
 
The closest I have ever come to that was when I shot 59 (on the Nationwide Tour in 1998), Begay said of his nine birdies in 10 holes. He then added he wasnt thinking about shooting 59 this time.
 
I was trying to shoot 58. Ive already shot 59. I was trying to birdie all the holes and eagle my 18th, he said.
 
The 30-year-old Native American is making his seventh start of the season. He hasnt finished better than tied for 44th, but its a far better beginning than that of a year ago.
 
Begay missed the cut in his first 11 events in 2002, breaking 70 only once. He ended the year 157th on the money list.
 
'All last year was just a rebuilding process,' he said. 'It was trying to play elite-level golf with below-par abilities, physically.'
 
This is Begays final season under the three-year exemption he received for winning twice in 2000.
 
That multiple-win season came on the heels of a two-win 1999. He also made the 2000 Presidents Cup team, but that seems so long ago in the wake of annular tears of L-4 and L-5 discs in his lower back.
 
Begay admits he suffered from depression during his tailspin: When you go out and you shoot 6-, 5-over, day after day, youre just like, Well, am I ever going to be that good again?
 
He believes a positive change in attitude will lead to a positive answer to that question.
 
As far as Im concerned, the body is going to follow the mind, and if I can continue to keep a positive frame of mind and stay focused, I think my body and my skills will do the rest of the work for me, he said.
 
He might be able to use this week as a showcase for possible suitors. Begay's endorsement deal with Nike ran out this week. He is using a Titleist driver and ball, and Ping irons.
 
That's better than Brehaut, who is using a mixed set of clubs after his playing set was stolen from his garage Saturday night.
 
He arrived at the course early Monday and worked with onsite manufacturers in getting the shafts cut to the proper length and the heads shaved to the desired weight.
 
He spent hours trying to get the feeling right with his wedges, and didn't even pick a putter until Thursday morning.
 
'The last three days I've been running around here really trying to get those issues settled,' he said.
 
None of that seemed to matter.
 
Like Begay, Brehaut and Leonard started on the back and made nine birdies and no bogeys. Leonard got off to a great start, turning in 6-under 30, while Brehaut closed in strong fashion with four finishing birdies.
 
You know, the wind is really the only defense this place has, Leonard said of the Sunset Course at The Country Club at Mirasol, which is hosting this event for the first time.
 
If it's not going to blow, the scores are going to be pretty low. The rough is thick in some spots, but you can certainly find some lies. So unless the wind really picks up, you're going to have to make a lot of birdies.
 
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from The Honda Classic
  • Full coverage of The Honda Classic
  • Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

    Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

    President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

    Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

    Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

    By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

    Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

    ''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


    Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

    Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

    ''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

    Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

    ''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

    Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.