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Begay highlights tourney field

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Albuquerque native and four-time PGA Tour winner Notah Begay III is one of 76 pros and 148 players to compete in the 50th annual San Juan Open, which begins today at Farmington’s San Juan Country Club.

SJCC general manager Randy Kahn says the total purse is $87,000, with a top prize of $17,500.

“It’s the biggest first-place check in the state, and that’s important for the (tournament) committee,” says Kahn. “There’s been a lot of activity and excitement with the members because of it being the 50-year anniversary. The community always does a great job of supporting this event.”

A dinner for past champions was scheduled Wednesday night.

The 72-hole event concludes Sunday. The pros play in groups as part of the pro-am for the first three rounds. There is a cut after the pro-am part of the event ends Saturday.

Defending champion Jimmy Gunn will not be in the field. He qualified for this year’s Web.com Tour. However, many of the region’s top pros are again playing in the San Juan, which has featured a number of players – such as Lee Trevino, Martin Laird and Paul Stankowski – who later won PGA Tour events.

Past San Juan champions in this year’s field include Utah’s Clay Ogden and Arizonans Ryan Dillon and Ryan Hogue.

Arizona’s Jesse Mueller, who made the cut at the U.S. Open two years ago, returns. He has finished second in the San Juan each of the past two years.

Other top names include host pro and former Senior Tour player Jeff Roth, ex-La Cueva High standout Luke Symons and Colorado’s Brown bombers – brothers Zahkai and Zenon.

Zahkai Brown won the Navajo Trail Open in Durango, Colo., last week.

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