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Two Men Two Tales

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One year ago, Notah Begay captured his second PGA Tour title of the season by defeating Tom Byrum in a playoff at the Michelob Championship. Since then, the two have been traveling down entirely different paths.
 
For the second consecutive year, Begay has posted a pair of victories. The 28-year-old Native American won the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June, and then won the following week's Canon Greater Hartford Open. Begay is the only player, save former college teammate Tiger Woods, to win in back-to-back weeks on the 2000 PGA Tour.
 
Currently, Begay stands in 16th place on the season money list, with over $1.7 million. He's earned a birth on this year's U.S. President's Cup Team. He's eligible for the Tour Championship. He's qualified for the 2001 Mercedes Championships. And he won't have to worry about his playing status for at least another two years.
 
Such is not the case for Byrum.
 
Last year's runner-up finisher in Williamsburg, Va. ended the season 80th in earnings, good enough to secure his 2000 Tour card.
 
However, this season, there haven't been any close calls. In fact, the only close call Byrum may take part in is in trying to maintain his card.
 
The top 125 players on the money list by season's end will receive full exemption onto the 2001 PGA Tour. Byrum currently stands in 125th place, with four full-field events remaining.
 
Byrum has played in 24 events this year. His best finish came in a tie for 7th at the Reno-Tahoe Open, his only top-10 of the season.
 
Thus far, this year is playing out similarly to 1999. Entering the Michelob Championship, Byrum had collected but one top-10 and was floundering in 147th position on the money list.
 
He didn't get his first Tour win since the 1989 Kemper Open that week, but the $270,000 he earned was good enough to vault him to 80th place on the season-ending money list.
 
Barring a repeat performance this week, Byrum could find himself at Q-School for the fifth time in his career. The last time Byrum made the dreadful trip was in 1996. That year, he finished 126th in earnings, one spot removed from an automatic exemption.
 
Joining Byrum and Begay at the Kingsmill Golf Club is David Duval. Duval won last week's Buick Challenge. It was his first start in ten weeks due to an ailing back. Also in attendance are Mark Calcavecchia, Steve Flesch, Lee Janzen, Casey Martin, Mark O'Meara, Jim Furyk, Mike Weir and Jean Van de Velde.
 
This week's purse is $3 million. The winner will collect $540,000.
 

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