Begay Shifts Much Of Focus Off Links

At&t National Notebook

July 01, 2009|By Barry Svrluga | Barry Svrluga,The Washington Post

Notah Begay III was once a rising star on the PGA Tour. All four of his victories came in 1999 and 2000, before he was 28. Then he started experiencing back problems.

He was forced back to qualifying school last year and is playing on tour full time again. But the results aren't there; he has made the cut just three times in 13 events.

"It's been so long, I don't really know that I do have it in me anymore," Begay said. "You just got to, somehow, come to terms with that."

Begay thus spends much of his time dealing with his foundation, which educates Native Americans on health and wellness issues.

"That's all I got," he said. "I don't know if I'll ever play at the highest level again. I want to put time into something that matters."

Three for the show

Tiger Woods will play in the marquee threesome for the first and second rounds Thursday and Friday, respectively. He will play from the first tee at Congressional's Blue Course at 1:02 p.m. Thursday, joining U.S. Open champ Lucas Glover and Charley Hoffman, something of the long-haired surfer dude of the tour.

That same threesome will begin the second round from the 10th tee at 8:12 a.m. Friday.

The other marquee threesome is likely Anthony Kim, 2003 U.S. Open champ Jim Furyk and tour veteran Davis Love III, who will begin play at 8 a.m. Thursday from No. 10.

Three-time major champion Vijay Singh is in the group just ahead of Woods on both days, beginning at 12:50 p.m. Thursday. U.S. Amateur champ Danny Lee, now a professional, is in the last group from the first tee Thursday, starting play at 1:52 p.m.

Groove changes

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem didn't have to spin this one. He made it clear that the tour will go along next year with a new rule that changes the grooves in irons and wedges.

The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club announced last year that effective Jan. 1, the dimensions in grooves - from the 5-iron through wedges - would change to create less spin when the ball was struck. The idea was to make shots out of the rough more difficult, putting a higher premium on driving accuracy.

Finchem was under increasing pressure from players and some equipment companies to postpone by one year the new rule, allowing for more research.

But after a spirited discussion by the PGA Tour policy board, Finchem decided to stay the course.

"I think that we're late in the process," Finchem said. "I think there's been a lot of reliance on the schedule by individuals, by equipment manufacturers, by other tours, by other golf organizations in taking steps to prepare for this schedule."

Grooves previously were U-shaped with sharp edges, allowing highly skilled players to generate enormous spin. The USGA was concerned that players were able to spin the ball out of the rough, allowing for shots to stop more quickly on the green. It felt that players no longer were penalized severely for missing the fairway.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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