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June 5, 2003

Notah Begay III


JOE CHEMYCZ: We welcome Notah Begay, 4 over par, 67 today. First player to post a bogey-free round today. Talk about the conditions out there and how you played; obviously very well.

NOTAH BEGAY III: The conditions are extremely unpredictable. And with the swirling winds and the trees, it really makes club selection very confusing. And I think one of the big misconceptions about a day like today is the fact that we've got ball in hand in the fairway, but the majority of players are hitting clubs, one or two clubs more into these greens. So I think that the two things offset each other; the golf course is playing longer, and the winds are very difficult to gauge. And so I think that's why you're seeing such high scores in the afternoon.

JOE CHEMYCZ: Is the golf course playing notably longer because of the wind conditions?

NOTAH BEGAY III: Oh, definitely. They've had tournaments where it was bordering on drought conditions, and for instance off No. 10, you're hitting a 2- or 3-iron off the tee, and today I belted a driver off there, because there's no way it was going to run into the creek or run through the fairway. And so you can be a little bit more aggressive on some holes. But holes like 7 and 8, you're hitting 3 and 4-irons in, flying them in.

Q. Is it easier to play with ball in hand, normally?

NOTAH BEGAY III: Traditionally, yeah, it's easier when you can put your hand on the ball and clean it and give yourself a really good lie. But like I said, everything's just so soggy out there, and I don't know if any of you had a chance to see, I was on the 14th hole, and I just splatted a 60 yard wedge shot. If you don't hit the ball cleanly, it can produce some really bad shots, not mentioning getting a splat of mud in your eye or in your face.

Q. What was your last bogey-free round?

NOTAH BEGAY III: In college (laughter.) I'm not sure. I don't really keep track of those. It was a while ago. Probably, possibly at Honda last time I played well. But that's not something you really think about. I think on the last hole I knew that I had a bogey-free round and I really was grinding to keep it that way, and made a fantastic bunker shot and saved a really good round.

Q. What's been the difference for you this week, as opposed to the last couple, where it looks like you haven't made the cut in the last four, correct?

NOTAH BEGAY III: Well, it was my mom's homemade green chile last night. My mom works here for the Department of Justice, and so that's one of the reasons I always play this event, because I get in trouble when she comes home and I don't play here. Secondly, she has me over for a home-cooked meal. I think having some familiar company and really, really good food, I enjoy a green chile stew, and maybe that was my secret. I might have to ask her to make it tonight again.

Q. How important is it for you to come back strong tomorrow? I know you've been a little shaky in the pass weeks?

NOTAH BEGAY III: I've had a lot of shaky second rounds all year. The key is to stay aggressive, and I think that as long as I stay aggressive and keep trusting my swing, it will be a productive day. And I don't really go out there with a score in mind, I'm just -- I'm in the process of regaining some confidence. My body is finally in a place that I can depend on it. And so tomorrow is going to be a good test for that, and I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Are you surprised by the round today, based on how you've played up to this point?

NOTAH BEGAY III: Not really. I mean my scores aren't indicative of somebody that's playing well, but coming off the type of injury that I dealt with, you know, you're dealing with some depressive elements. You start playing rounds of golf, and you just get used to shooting bad scores, and so you mind starts building up this data base of negative thoughts. And I've been playing well, but I've had to really fight a lot of mental barriers that I've sort of put on myself, because of all those bad rounds when I was hurt. I was playing golf two years ago where I couldn't even touch my toes. And it took me 20 minutes to get out of bed. And I was hitting it 250 yards off the tee. I just shouldn't have been on the golf course. But the warrior mentality in me wouldn't let me walk away from it, and just get well and come back as a healthy individual. I've been fighting an uphill battle for over two years, now, and finally starting to come into the final stages of that.

Q. You've been doing a lot of physical therapy and working in the gym, haven't you?

NOTAH BEGAY III: Yeah, since the injury occurred just after The Presidents Cup in 2000, and at that point I was right around 30th in the world, and was really on the up swing. And it just really knocked the legs out from under me, and it was the L4, L5 disk, and that whole next year I tried to play and couldn't play. And I finally took 6, 8 months off. And the start of 2002, the beginning of 2002 is what I would term the rehabilitation process. I started really being aggressive with my training, and I could work out and stretch. My game's just been very cyclical ever since then. And since that point I've dropped about 25 pounds and my trainer, his name is Chris Frankel, he's from Albuquerque, New Mexico, has just been extremely dedicated in doing research and putting together a comprehensive program that addresses my back's specific needs. And his implementation of that program is probably one of the primary reasons I'm playing so well right now. And I'm just looking for better things in the weeks to follow.

JOE CHEMYCZ: Take us through the round real quick with the birdies. First one at 1.

NOTAH BEGAY III: Driver, 8-iron to about ten feet, right-to-left, made the putt, right-handed.

6, I hit a sand wedge to about three feet.

13, I hit it pin-high in two, chipped it about four feet and made the putt.

15, I hit a 5-iron in there to about four inches.

Q. Were you in danger of making bogey today?

NOTAH BEGAY III: Yeah, actually I was supposed to make a bogey on 18, and the shortest hole in the course I almost made a bogey. I had to make a 6-footer for par.

JOE CHEMYCZ: Thank you. Play well the rest of this week.

End of FastScripts....

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