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Golf News: - Posted 17th May 1998

Begay shoots 59 in Nike Dominion Open

Richmond, Virginia - He's the golfer from Stanford University who doesn't ride in a cart and isn't Tiger Woods.

Notah Begay III is, however, the third player to shoot a 59 on a U.S. pro tour. That's something neither Woods nor Casey Martin -- not even Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer or Ben Hogan -- ever managed.

"I guaranteed myself a piece of immortality,'' Begay said today after making birdies on the final two holes to break 60 at the Nike Tour's Dominion Open.

Begay joined Al Geiberger and Chip Beck, both of whom did it on the PGA Tour, with his 59, which included a hole-in-one on the third, his 12th hole of the day. He was 11-under on his final 11 holes and had two eagles and nine birdies on the 7,020-yard, par-72 Dominion Club course.

"I was very much under control today. If you disrespect the game of golf, it will put you in your place. I tried to keep myself grounded.''

While Begay, a native American -- he is half Navajo and half Pueblo -- had two feet on the ground, his shots were soaring close to the pin on nearly every hole.

"I fell into a groove,'' said Begay, who opened with a 70 on Thursday and holds a four-stroke lead heading into the third round.

He opened with a birdie on the 10th and also birdied the 15th, 17th and 18th to turn in 32.

The 25-year-old Begay, who played with Woods and Martin at Stanford, then really heated up. He holed a 112-yard wedge shot at No. 1 for a deuce. He birdied the second, then put a 5-iron into the cup for his ace at No. 3.

"After the hole-in-one, 59 came into my mind ... an understanding, an enlightenment. No one's going to care if I shot 60-61,'' he said.

Begay also made birdies on the fifth, sixth and eighth. He came to the 182-yard, par-3 ninth needing a birdie for the magic 59.

He put his 6-iron just 8 feet from the hole.

"Very few people can say they have had a putt at 59,'' said Begay, who began playing golf when he was 6 years old and also was a starting guard on a state high school championship basketball team in Albuquerque. "Even fewer have made 59. I just told myself, 'Go for it.' ''

He did, and when the putt dropped, Begay had played the final 11 holes in 11-under par.

Begay tied Geiberger (Memphis Classic in 1977) and Beck (1991 Las Vegas Invitational) by shooting a 27 on his back nine, which tied the PGA Tour record, as well.

"The 59 will only go so far,'' he said. "The Nike Dominion championship will mean more."