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March 14, 2003

Notah Begay III


JOHN BUSH: Notah, we'd like to thank you for coming by the interview room, 14-under par 130, co-leader as of right now. Congratulations on a great round.

NOTAH BEGAY III: Yeah, I don't know why they thank me for coming in here because they never ask me when I play bad. So I'm honored to be here, I should say.

Yeah, I had a great round. Just got off to a slow start as far as -- made a couple bogeys today that I just wasn't real happy with, but overall very satisfied.

JOHN BUSH: And a good finish there with the eagle on 17.

NOTAH BEGAY III: Definitely. I really wanted to play in the last group and that was something -- sort of a personal goal of mine coming down the last few holes after I birdied 15 and I knew that 13 was already posted and I saw Peoples at 14.

So I really wanted to be in that position again. It's been a long time and I knew that I've worked hard enough to get my health back and my game back and I wanted to be in the last group. So, here I am.

JOHN BUSH: Let's go through your card starting with the birdie on No. 3.

NOTAH BEGAY III: Hit a pitching wedge to about ten feet, right-handed, made it.

4, hit a 9-iron to about 12 feet, made it left-handed.

3-putted, I think it was 6, from about 30 feet.

Q. Which side?

NOTAH BEGAY III: My longer putts are all right-handed usually. But the short one was right-handed, if that matters.

I made a birdie and hit an 8-iron in there about two feet on 8.

I hit a lob-wedge on 10 to about a foot.

And then bogeyed 14. Hit a 3-iron in the right bunker. Hit it to about 12 feet and missed the putt left-handed.

Got up-and-down from the bunker on 15 for birdie. Made a long putt just off the fringe, right-handed about 22 feet.

And hit a 3-iron to about 18 feet on 17. For eagle.

Q. What did you hit off the tee on 17?


Q. Why did you want to be -- I guess maybe it's an unfair question or an easy question, but why did you want to be in the last group?

NOTAH BEGAY III: It's just a symbolic accomplishment for me, knowing that I've bested the field the first two days and going into the weekend I have a real great opportunity to win the golf tournament. I really only had a chance to win one tournament last year and had to come from off the pace.

So now, it's just a matter of going out and maintaining position, staying focused and just reassuring myself that all of the ills and the pain mentally and physically that I've dealt with over last couple of years is in the past.

Q. I think you led after the first two days of Hartford, which would mean -- and which was your last win, which would mean it would bring it back pretty close to full circle; did you think about that at all?

NOTAH BEGAY III: No, not at all. But very comfortable in that position. That particular string of weeks, from FedEx all the way through Hartford, those back-to-back weeks that I won, I played in the last group on the weekend, I think almost four out of four times, and just sort of suits my game.

Q. A lot of guys after 36 holes, if they are up at the top lead being, they won't talk about winning because there's a lot of golf to be played; why don't you shy away?

NOTAH BEGAY III: I'm not afraid to win. That's my objective. I'm not superstitious. You either go out and try to win or you don't. I'm not going to try and back into -- I'm not one of those people that doesn't watch leaderboards and tries to putt the blinders on. I like to know where I'm at, I want to know who I'm trying to beat or who is trying to beat me.

I think at the highest level, those are the types of demons that we have to conquer in order to reach the winner's circle and I know what that's like.

Q. Did you teach Tiger that or did Tiger teach you that?

NOTAH BEGAY III: We kind of have a real similar competitive approach. It's kill or be killed, essentially. I know that that's not probably the most kind gesture at this moment when we are on the brink of war, but maybe if I can go out and win the golf tournament, my younger brother, who is stationed in Kuwait right now might read it somewhere in the paper.

Q. What's his name?

NOTAH BEGAY III: Greg Begay. He's in the Marine Corps.

Q. What is he?

NOTAH BEGAY III: Special forces.

Q. Rank?

NOTAH BEGAY III: He's ground. He's going in if we decide to move forward.

Q. How long has he been in?

NOTAH BEGAY III: Just two years. He's only 20 years old.

Q. When did you talk to him last?

NOTAH BEGAY III: Right before he left, the week of San Diego.

Q. You said you and Tiger have the same personality, same kind of competitiveness. Did you guys kind of change a little when you got together or were you just both like that to begin with?

NOTAH BEGAY III: Oh, we were always like that. I think my father was raised -- my younger brother is a third generation Marine. My grandfather is a code talker, my father was a marine and so that mentality is very competitive; and to go out there and really put forth your best effort. The field of battle is the course, the field, the golf course that we take every day, and I go out there and I'm ready to battle.

Q. Would you have been in the military if you have not been a professional golfer?

NOTAH BEGAY III: Probably not. I'm too much of a wimp. (Laughter.)

I've actually had debates with people about this, the pro/con war. If there was a draft and my number was called, I would definitely go, just because I appreciate the opportunities that this country provides for us, and granted, it's not a perfect system, but it's a system that has the ability to change and adapt. That's the one thing I appreciate about it.

Q. How old is Greg?


Q. Is your dad a career military man?

NOTAH BEGAY III: No. He served, I don't know how many years. I'm trying to forget all that because all that military corporal punishment kind of thing, when it was okay. (Laughter.) See if I would have known then, I could have gone and done all of these things -- no. (Laughing).

No, he wasn't a career.

Q. Did he see combat?

NOTAH BEGAY III: Yeah, just very little in Vietnam.

Q. Did your brother ever caddie for you on the PGA TOUR?

NOTAH BEGAY III: No, he hasn't. He's not a bad player himself, played some high school golf. But just didn't opt to go to college and chose another path, which I respect tremendously.

Q. You were talking yesterday how much pride you took in the fact that you get yourself in position; that you usually are able to pull it off. Most golfers invariably struggle the first few times they get in there and don't win, why is it that you think you've been a lot more successful in doing that?

NOTAH BEGAY III: I just love -- I love the friction. I live for it. I mean, it's not physical; it's mental. And there's so many things out there that whether we put things in our own path or they are put there for us, we have to deal with them. You have to have the heart and the courage to step over that putter, step over that shot and trust everything that you have put into it. That's the beauty about professional sports is that you have guys that love the pressure, that thrive under the pressure, and you have others that they don't.

I'm not saying that I haven't had my failures, but, you know, give me that chance to fail and I guarantee you I'm going to make the best of it.

Q. Do you think it's just growing up in that environment that helped you feel that way or do you think there's something sort of innate?

NOTAH BEGAY III: I think a lot of it is just you have that drive. I've been told, ever since I was a little kid, that I was extremely competitive.

But on the same token, once I'm off the course, I don't sort of take it with me everywhere I go. I'm fairly friendly from what I've been told. But I don't know what they say when I'm gone.

Q. Are you chomping at the bit to tee it up tomorrow?

NOTAH BEGAY III: Oh, definitely. Looking forward to it. Becoming more comfortable with being back in this position. Today was a great test for me. You always wonder, following up a good round, it's hard to follow up with another one, and very happy to have done that.

Q. I don't know if you were asked this last year when the movie came out, but what did you and your family think of that movie Windtalkers?

NOTAH BEGAY III: I think that effort itself was admirable. The historical context could have been richer. It could have had more factual information in there for the person that wasn't sort of composed to it, why the code talkers were enlisted and how this group of individuals who at the time were not even considered almost -- not even considered citizens, still left their families and left their homes where they had been put on reservations to basically volunteer for this country, is extremely, extremely admirable. To have that code be such a -- to have such an impact in that war, because just from some of the veterans that I've talked to, it was invaluable in taking Iwo Jima

JOHN BUSH: Thanks for coming by and good luck tomorrow.

End of FastScripts....

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