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Begay back in action to learn more about APGA Tour

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MAKING HIS RETURN — Golf Channel and NBC on-course analyst Notah Begay, left, talks with Charlie Woods, son of golfer Tiger Woods, as they walk on the 18th fairway analyst during the final round of the PNC Championship on Dec. 20, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. Begay III competed in a tournament for the first time in nearly 10 years, and the score isn’t what matters to him. His appearance on the Advocates Professional Golf Association Tour in Arizona has been a mixture of inspiration and appreciation.

(AP) — Notah Begay III competed in a tournament for the first time in nearly 10 years, and the score isn’t what matters to him.

His appearance on the Advocates Professional Golf Association Tour in Arizona has been a mixture of inspiration and appreciation.

Begay, a four-time PGA Tour winner and now an on-course reporter for NBC Sports, was on the broadcast crew for the APGA Tour event on the Sunday after the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

“I was intrigued by the type of work out there. I needed to get to find out about the visit, the players, and what their targets are going ahead,” Begay said. “There could be no more excellent way than to be a piece of it.”

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Back injuries cut short his career. Begay’s last tour event was in August 2012 at the Reno-Tahoe Open. He wasn’t sure what to expect on the Champions Course at the TPC Scottsdale, though he acquitted himself nicely with a 1-over 72 on Monday and 3-over 74 on Tuesday. He finished tied for 20th in the 51-man field.

Begay has always been about access, which includes his NB3 Junior Golf Tour, in which kids compete in tournaments throughout New Mexico and surrounding states, culminating with regional and national championships. Financial assistance is available.

“We didn’t deny one player,” Begay said. “This game has been saying ‘no’ for quite a while.”

The APGA Tour began in 2010, established to prepare Black golfers and other minorities to compete and build careers on tour or in the golf industry. It has gained momentum in recent years with sponsor exemptions at PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour events, and with a schedule that is starting to include TPC courses for its 36-hole events.

The one at Torrey Pines on Sunday — the PGA Tour event ended on Saturday this year to avoid conflicts with NFL conference championships — was the first one to be televised live.

Begay was working and watching.

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“I’ve been doing some research, just seeing the records they’ve had and where they come from,” he said Sunday evening. “I’m just trying to be more informed.”

Plus, the competition might serve him well. He turns 50 in September and will be eligible for the PGA Tour Champions.