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""I got that message," Begay said. "Indians aren't supposed to do this. Indians aren't supposed to do that. You can't be lawyers. You can't be doctors. And God forbid you'd be a professional golfer.
"I didn't listen to it," Begay said, "because I had this connection to the game of golf. Golf kind of grabbed me by the hand and said, 'This is going to be something that's going to do a lot of things for you.' ''


© Associated Press

 

"But even from high school, when people have asked me to participate in an event or  talk to kids, I remember I think one of the best things -- the most fun things I have ever did was three years ago I went and read to a group of kindergartners. That was fun. They had no idea who I was. But they just appreciated someone taking the time out to come and read to them, read a story, and I got a lot out of that."




© Associated Press

 

 

© Associated Press

 

With Brother On His Side, It's Cash And Carry

By JEFF JACOBS
The Hartford Courant

July 03, 2000

CROMWELL - He carries the bag. He tends the flag. He drives the fancy courtesy cars.

It doesn't sound like much, eh? It doesn't sound as if Clint Begay has had any impact on the PGA Tour.

Yet to paint this huge chunk of New Mexico as a pack mule and designated driver is to miss what happened Sunday at the TPC at River Highlands.

There was, to be sure, a terrific golf duel over the final holes of the

Canon Greater Hartford Open. And although he still hasn't won here, Mark Calcavecchia handled himself like a champion this time.

Notah Begay also will be the first to tell you Calcavecchia's eagle on 15 and his own dramatic 22-foot birdie putt for the $504,000 first prize merely tell a golf story. There is family story here, too, a story of love and trust between brothers, a story of fraternity that goes far behind carrying a golf bag and driving the Cadillac at Pebble Beach or the Buick at Cromwell.

``Gosh, his support is immeasurable,'' Begay said. ``Clint's contribution to my overall approach toward golf this year means the world to me. He knows the tough times I've gone through. He knows how much disappointment I had in myself. He has a lot to do with the way I'm playing.''

Clint, 25, helped read a few putts Sunday and encouraged Notah to be patient. He is also the first to tell you Notah walks off his own distances, makes his own club selections, essentially serves as his own caddie. Clint is a 260-pound cheerleader in a loud Hawaiian shirt and, man, it means everything.

``Clint's like the jockey,'' Begay, 27, said. ``He kicks me in the butt when I start getting a little bit down. If I get a little too mad or serious, he tells a joke.''

A jockey, Notah? C'mon.

``OK,'' he answered. ``He's like two jockeys.''

With back-to-back victories, four titles in 10 months and a gunslinger's cool, Begay is seen by some as the best hope for the PGA Tour to avoid becoming Planet Tiger. Before Clint joined him at the Memorial in late May, Notah had missed five of seven cuts. Begay, a Native American who speaks passionately about being a role model, had embarrassed himself with his second arrest for drunken driving. Half Navajo, half Pueblo and an All-American teammate of Tiger Woods at Stanford, Begay had grown up in an adobe with plug-in heaters and no hot water on a reservation with 80 percent unemployment.

The outlook?

``Very, very dismal,'' Begay said.

Although he emerged from seven nights in jail satisfied he was the one who informed the judge of a previous out-of-state arrest, he also left with a conscience that was guilty. He felt he had let folks down. He said he had fed an ugly stereotype of his people.

``Notah's not afraid to own up to his mistakes,'' said Clint, who must drive his brother until he regains his driver's license. ``He could have run. He could have hidden. He owned up to it. He faced the consequences. Good things happen to people like that.''

Great things, too. With Clint around, he has shot up faster than a UFO in the New Mexico night: 45th at the Memorial, 22nd at the U.S. Open, first at at the St. Jude Classic, first at the GHO. He's hot property - just like his buddy.

``Oh, yeah,'' Begay said, laughing at the thought. ``Tiger's been a great asset to me, as my career progresses, because he's probably one of the top one or two most recognizable people in the world. I'm just hoping to be the most recognizable guy in Albuquerque.''

Clint called his brother a fighter. Somebody else would have folded when Calcavecchia eagled to tie him, Clint said. Not Notah. He loves the pressure.

Notah stuck his tongue out at his brother after barely missing a birdie on 17. And he was the one who had to calm Clint down last week. Clint started panicking on the eighth hole at Memphis, pushing Notah, telling him he was behind, to get it going.

``I had to slap him around a little,'' Notah said. ``He was getting a little out of hand.''

``I told him, `Sorry. First timer,' '' Clint said. ``I was fine this week. Hey, I'm a veteran.''

As the brothers walked the 18th fairway Sunday, Notah broke the tension once more.

``He said, `I got a good feeling about this putt. Dude, this is what you live for,' '' Clint said.

And after he sank the 22-footer for the GHO title, he did a dance, shook hands with Calcavecchia and then fell into his brother's arms.

``I told you so,'' Notah whispered.

``I don't think words can describe how I feel,'' Clint said. ``It's been the greatest experience. The winning's great, but being able to spend time with Notah is even better. He's always gone. I'm away. We see each other maybe two months out of the year.''

Clint wanted to apologize to the PGA Tour. He knows caddies are supposed to wear solid colors. He wore his collegiate travel shirt from Hawaii-Hilo.

``Everything else was in the laundry,'' Clint said.

He might have run out of clothes, but he will never run out of memories. This is his brother, the one who wears earrings in honor of his people. The one who put red clay under his eyes at the NCAA Championship in the tradition of those who embark on a long journey. This is the brother who says, ``I want my legacy not to be tournament victories, not how much money I made. I want to make a difference in the lives of young people regardless of race.''

This is the brother who dedicated his victory to a close friend, Ron Marks, who died Monday of a heart attack. A man, Begay calls, ``Uncle Ronnie.''

This is the brother Clint loves.

``Sometimes he holds things inside him, but I know he played with a heavy heart this week,'' Clint said. ``Just to be able to spend time with him, to get that bond back that we once had growing up means so much. If he never paid me a penny that would be fine.''

And then Clint smiled, not caring what ``the family rate'' of payment would be. He says he is going to back to Hawaii-Hilo in the fall to complete his degree, but not before jumping on a flight to England today to watch Wimbledon before the British Open. This summer with Notah is going to be a blast.

``Notah keeps telling me my check's in the mail,'' Clint said. ``The problem is we live in the same house. I think he sent it out on the Pony Express.''

 


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