Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA ANA PUEBLO – Whether Notah Begay III is waiting for a flight, or in line at a burger joint, or at the checkout counter at a shoe store or even after the TV camera lights go out, he’ll get asked about LIV Golf.
People want to know Begay’s take, as he is an analyst for the Golf Channel and NBC Sports, as well as a four-time PGA Tour winner who was once a top-20 player in the world.
“I get asked about LIV Golf virtually every day,” Begay, the Albuquerque Academy legend and Duke City native, said Tuesday at Twin Warriors Golf Club, where the New Mexico Regional for his junior golf national tournament concluded. “It’s on people’s minds because it’s really fractured professional golf. Hopefully what the game stands for will rise above it all. That’s my hope.”
Begay, a member of the winning 2000 U.S. Presidents Cup Team and Stanford’s 1994 national championship team, turns 50 on Sept. 14 and is contemplating a dedicated comeback on the PGA Champions Tour.
For now, he’s set to make his PGA Tour Champions debut at the Constellation FURYK & FRIENDS at Timuquana Country Club, Oct. 3-9, in Jacksonville, Florida.
He will try to fit in practice time amid his efforts as captain of the U.S. Junior Presidents Cup Team at Myers Park C.C. in Charlotte, North Carolina, Sept. 19-20. Even when he’s practicing, he’ll get asked about LIV Golf.
He was at the recent U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at Bandon Dunes in Oregon for Golf Channel coverage, and he was also there to look at some of the talent that will be on the U.S. Junior Presidents Cup.
The deadline for the first of 12 picks among the nation’s top junior golfers will be Aug. 19. Ten of the spots will be determined by an overall points list provided by the American Junior Golf Association, and Begay will make one pick.
Begay answered questions from the Journal pertaining to the controversial LIV Golf and about his close friend and former Stanford teammate Tiger Woods, who turned down an offer estimating $700 millon to $800 million from LIV Golf, according to Greg Norman. Begay said that estimate is “fairly accurate.”
JOURNAL: Did you think that the PGA Tour increasing prize money was bound to happen because of LIV Golf’s presence?
BEGAY: The increase in purses is going to be one of a number of changes you’re going to see the PGA Tour make moving forward. LIV Golf, and the approach that they’re taking, and the platform they have provided for their players … that is forcing the Tour to sort of reassess its model. Every company has to modify or change its model as it moves forward into different generations, different eras. Since there really wasn’t anybody knocking on the door since its inception, the PGA Tour has had the benefit of making those changes on its own. But now having another organization set up a different type of standard has really allowed the Tour to make changes that I think are going to benefit the players. Everybody is going to benefit from bigger purses. We’ll just see how this whole thing plays out over the next six months. I think there will be a few more changes as we get toward the end of the year.
AJ: Do you ever see the PGA Tour and LIV Golf working together or compromising to benefit each other?
NB: “I don’t know if there will ever be a true compromise simply because the PGA Tour has all of the best players. That may change. But right now if you’re a great player in the game, you play on the PGA Tour. If you’re an aspiring player that wants to be great, you want to play on the PGA Tour. That’s where the best players are and the best tournaments, currently, and access to the majors.
AJ: Will Tiger talk about Norman’s recent reveal of LIV Golf’s offer to him?
NB: Tiger may talk about it down the road. I don’t think Tiger feels compelled to talk about it. His position is very clear. He’s in support of the PGA Tour. He supports the legacy and the history that has been established by the PGA Tour. He’s very much in support of what the PGA Tour has done for him. Tiger wasn’t always a multi-billion dollar superstar. He had to start somewhere. And the PGA Tour is what gave him the opportunity to make his name, establish his brand.
AJ: How will people view Tiger now after he has turned down such a huge offer?
NB: It really allows people to see a side of Tiger that is related to his principles. We all know that he’s a great father. He loves his family. He’s dedicated to that. But in this day and age where it’s very easy for athletes across all sports, celebrities and entertainers, to take a quick buck. Nobody would’ve faulted him for it. But for him to turn down that kind of money just kind of tells you how much he believes in what the PGA Tour stands for.