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Begay gives back to youth

By Staff
A LESSON IN GOLF – PGA player Notah Begay III helps Brittany Dotson, 14, with her swing during the Junior Golf for Diabetes Awareness clinic at Dancing Rabbit Golf Club. Photo by Carisa McCain / The Meridian Star
By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
October 20, 2002
PHILADELPHIA One of the top rising professional golfers on the PGA Tour was at the Pearl River Resort's Dancing Rabbit Golf Club on Saturday lending a hand in giving native American youth a role model they can look up to.
That's because Notah Begay III is a native American. In two weeks, Begay will be back in Mississippi to play in the Farm Bureau Classic at Annadale in Madison. It will be the first time the 30-year-old, New Mexico native, has played in Mississippi's only PGA Tour event.
There is good reason.
That is the lofty heights Begay has reached in his short career on the PGA Tour. The 2001 season was particulary good. He won two tournaments and earned $1.8 million to finish 20th on the money list. He was also named to the prestigious President's Cup.
The 2002 season has been a lot more difficult. He suffered an injury to his lower back that forced him to cancel many of the events in the first half of the season.
He has rallied to make the Top 125 on the money list this year. His best finish was third at the Fed Ex Classic in Memphis.
Begay's mission on Saturday was as important, in his mind, than playing this week at the Disney Classic in Buena Vista, Fla.
Barry Jim, the recreation director for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, says Begay is an excellent role model for the Choctaw youth.
David Yepa, a resident of Begay's hometown of Albuquerque, N.M., says Begay has made a big difference in his community.
Jim estimated that nearly 200 youths signed up to see Begay's golf demonstration and later to hear his motivational talk. Begay was also here to help awareness of diabetes and help raise funds for the Choctaw Community Diabetes Management Center.
Two of the over 100 youths on hand for the Choctaw Youth Golf Program were 9-year-old Quinton Billie and 11-year-old Lorissa Shumake, both from Choctaw.
As for Billie, he just learning the ropes.
Begay hopes that will change after Saturday.
Those goals for next year include getting eligible for the majors: The Masters, the U.S. Open, British Open and the PGA Championship.