Begay Back to Defend FedEx

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While many of the games big names take the week off in preparation for next weeks U.S. Open in Tulsa, Okla., Notah Begay III is hoping to regain his form at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Germantown, Tenn.
 
Begay has missed the majority of this season due to back problems. In the events he has played, Begay has made just two of seven cuts.
 
This week, however, the 28-year-old Native American is in soothing surroundings.
 
Having missed five of ten cuts prior to the 2000 FedEx, Begay rebounded with a one-stroke victory over Chris DiMarco and Bob May. The following week, he won the Canon Greater Hartford Open.
 
Begay started this season by finishing 32nd in the 33-man field at the Mercedes Championships. The only other cut he made was a tie for 56th at the Bay Hill Invitational.
 
His last tournament appearance came in the Masters, where he missed the cut. He had to withdraw the Kemper Insurance Open during its pro-am.
 
Begay attributes his lower-back pain to over-exuberance in off-season conditioning.
 
Phil Mickelson, Jesper Parnevik, Stewart Cink, Tom Lehman, Scott McCarron, David Toms and two-time champion Nick Price (1993, 98) will also be battling for the $630,000 first-place prize in the $3.5 million event.
 
The tournament will be contested for the 13th consecutive year on the par-71 TPC at Southwind.
 
Begays 12-under-par 272 total in 2000 was the highest winning score since the event first moved the Southwind venue in 1989.
 
John Cook won the 1996 FedEx with a 26-under 258 total. The tournament was also the site of the first 59 recorded in PGA Tour history. Al Geiberger recorded the magical number at the Colonial Country Club in Cordova, Tenn., in 1977.
 
Coincidentally, Begay also has a place in scoring lore. He became the first player in Buy.Com Tour history to fire a 59, doing so in the second round of the 1998 Dominion Open.