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Begay continues hot streak by winning Greater Hartford Open

SHARE Begay continues hot streak by winning Greater Hartford Open

CROMWELL, Conn. — If Tiger Woods isn't careful, they might start referring to him as Notah Begay's college teammate.

Picking up right where Woods left off in the U.S. Open, Begay won the Greater Hartford Open on Sunday for his second consecutive victory on the PGA Tour.

Begay holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a one-stroke victory over Mark Calcavecchia in the Greater Hartford Open, making the American Indian the first player to win consecutive tournaments since Woods won the final two events last year.

"It's beyond words for me. I'm real happy with my game. And after all the personal problems I've had, it's a pleasure to be playing golf again," said Begay, who won the St. Jude Classic last week in Memphis, Tenn.

Arrested in January for drunken driving and jailed for a week, Begay missed five cuts in 10 tournaments after that. Overcoming his personal problems and the death of a close friend this week added to his resolve to win Sunday.

He closed with a 7-under-par 64 to break the tournament record with a 20-under 260 total on the TPC at River Highlands. Brent Geiberger set the previous record of 262 last year.

After holing the winning putt, Begay ran off the green, his arms in the air when the putt dropped, mouthing the words "this one's for you Ronnie," referring to his best friend's father, Ron Marks, who died Monday.

Calcavecchia, who lost his opening three-stroke lead early then tied Begay with a late eagle, just closed his eyes.

"I didn't think he was going to make it," said Calcavecchia, who moments earlier missed his birdie attempt by inches. "I thought he was aiming too far to the right, but he had the ultimate speed on it. I just kind of closed my eyes ... second again."

Combined with his victory last week, Begay has picked up more than $1 million in earnings to nudge him near the top 10. The GHO, sponsored by Canon, paid Begay $504,000 for the win. It was his fourth victory in two years on tour.

Begay made short work of Calcavecchia's three-stroke lead. He birdied Nos. 2, 4, 5 and 7, rolling in putts of between 10 and 25 feet. He putts either left-handed or right-handed depending upon the break. The tournament winner came from the right side.

"I was lucky to be the one closest to the hole," Begay said. "He couldn't really go for it, and it just gave me a green light to get a good read and give it a chance."

Calcavecchia, winless since 1998, picked up a $302,000 second-place check. Kirk Triplett shot a 67 to finish four strokes back.

Begay has credited part of his turnaround with using his brother Clint as his caddie, starting in May. Clint, two years younger and bigger at 260 pounds, has helped Begay relax by providing comic relief while on the bag. Notah Begay has joked that his brother won't get the caddies' usual 10 percent, but the family discount.

"I haven't even seen my paycheck from last week — he keeps telling me the check's in the mail," Clint said. "But as long as he feeds me, I'm all right."