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Outside the Lines

Native Americans

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This three-day online series is a companion to the ESPN Outside the Lines television special on Native Americans and sports that originally appeared Nov. 16.

Tuesday, June 3
Begay: No pressure

Despite being the only Native American on the PGA Tour, Notah Begay places no added pressure on himself to play well, the Rookie of the Year candidate said.

In a chat session with ESPN.com users, Begay said that when on the course he boils the game down to its basics -- club striking ball -- and those basics do not know about a golfer's ethnic background.

Begay also talked about playing with Tiger Woods and Casey Martin at Stanford, his 59 on the Nike Tour last year, and other topics. Below is an edited transcript:

Notah Begay
Colin Montgomerie is among the PGA golfers who have offered their congratulations to Notah Begay for his strong rookie year.

Samuel Rosas: Do you still keep in contact with Casey Martin at all?

Notah Begay: Yes, I do. And he and I are both looking forward to playing with each year.

Joey: Congrats, Notah, on a great year. I heard that at Stanford you were the No. 1 golfer with Tiger there. Is that true? And, how did all you guys (Tiger, Casey, you, and the other teammates) get along?

Notah Begay: For most of the year, I played No. 1. And, we got along very well. We had a great team and had a lot of fun. I'll always remember it as one of the best experiences of my life

The memory that really sticks out was putting for money on the practice green. One time, Casey and I beat Tiger and another freshman, Conrad Ray. We beat them out of a good deal of money -- so let's just say they weren't too happy about Tiger.

Rob Beaulieu: Do you think that Jim Thorpe should be on the Wheaties box, and should he be ESPN's top athlete of the century?

Notah Begay: Jim Thorpe should be on a Wheaties box because his performance and statistics were just as good or better than every single person who has been on a Wheaties box in history. But because he competed so early in the 20th century, not many people know about him.

As far as ESPN's top athlete goes, I think it's between Thorpe, Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali. I don't know who I'd pick out of those.

Phil: What is your primary goal for the 2000 season?

Notah Begay: Just to play on the President's Cup team. And to do that, I'm going to have to have at least as good a year or better than the one I had this year.

Cher: I work for a research project in which we target Native American youth, mainly at two boarding schools. Our entire staff has noticed lots of articles and posters of you within the dorms. You leave a positive impact with the kids, and we think it's great! Do you plan on visiting any schools on the reservation for motivational talks?

Notah Begay: Yeah, I just did a motivational talk on Monday on the Navajo reservation. Last Wednesday, I spoke at the Chemawa Indian School in Oregon. Those are the types of speaking engagements that I enjoy most, because it allows me to get in touch with the kids and give back.

Gervana Begaye-Johns: I'm from Shiprock, N.M. and first, I just wanted to say Ya'at'eeh and congrats on your accomplishments. My question is: Will you create a foundation that's similiar to the Tiger Woods Foundation that targets the Native American youth population?

Notah Begay: Those plans are definitely being put together right now. From a financial standpoint -- in order to justify a foundation you need enough funds coming in to maintain the administration of a foundation -- it doesn't make sense but will definitely take place in the next 2-3 years.

Marilyn: Do you have any intention of using your education from Stanford when and if you decide to cease golfing professionally?

Notah Begay: I use my education from Stanford right now because I need to make sure my income is looked after correctly, and my financial manager is making good, sound financial decisions that will benefit me in the future. And that stems from my economics degree at Stanford.

I'm not sure what I'd do after playing golf. I just want to do something productive.

Joni: I'm an aspiring high school golfer. Any advice?

Notah Begay: Make sure you take care of business in the classroom, and once that's done, pour your heart and soul into the game.

Brent Cahwee: As the only Native American golfer on the PGA Tour right now, do you place any extra pressure on yourself to succeed? Also, if that pressure exists then does it help fire you up before a tournament?

Notah Begay: I don't place any additional pressure on myself because I'm a Native American. The golf ball and clubs don't know who you are or where you came from. I get fired up to win and compete because that's what drives me.

5th graders from the Navajo Reservation: Aaron in our class asked, "What are your clans?"

Notah Begay: On my mother's side, I am of the Fox Clan. On my Navajo side, I am born of the Folded Arm People. And my paternal grandfather is of the Salt Clan ... that is who I am.

Trip: What hole did you start thinking, "Hey, I can shoot 59"? I was there that day, caddying three groups ahead of you. Awesome stuff.

Notah Begay: When I made the hole-in-one on the 12th hole at the Dominion Club in Virginia. That's when I knew it was a possibility.

Moderator Tom Farrey: Notah is leaving the room now.

Notah, any final thoughts?

Notah Begay: Yes. Thanks everyone for all your support. Thanks for logging on. It's because of you that I do what I do, and I wouldn't be who I am without you.



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