MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Notah Begay's third victory on the PGA Tour may turn out to be the biggest in his life.
Begay's one-stroke win at the St. Jude Classic on Sunday was his first since spending a week in jail for drunken driving. Having to endure the headlines and attention and being ordered to stay away from alcohol, Begay missed five cuts in 10 tournaments and thought he was losing his touch.
''I was trying to show everybody that I could bounce back a lot faster, and I didn't pay attention to the fact that it did take a lot out of me mentally and emotionally, and it took its toll,'' Begay said.
What turned him around? Having his younger brother as his caddie sure helped. Clint Begay doesn't read many putts or help with club selection, but he does keep his brother relaxed on the golf course.
Begay had three birdies and a bogey in Sunday's final round and beat Bob May and Chris DiMarco by one stroke to get the $540,000 winner's check and a big confidence boost. He finished with a 13-under 271 total.
''To be able to get back into contention for me was great ... especially when it was nip and tuck the last two, three holes is very refreshing and lets me know I'm back to playing good golf again,'' Begay, 27, said.
Although still better known as Tiger Woods' college teammate, Begay shot a 59 on the then-Nike Tour last year. He then wrapped up his first year on the PGA Tour by winning the Reno-Tahoe Open and the Michelob Championship.
But he stumbled into his second year on tour when he drove his car into a parked car outside a bar in his hometown of Albuquerque, N.M. His second drunken driving arrest cost him a week in jail where he spent at least 12 hours a day in solitary confinement.
The missed cuts followed with his best finish a tie for 15th at the MCI Classic. Then Begay put his brother on his bag, and he noticed a difference at the U.S. Open where he finished 22nd.
''I'm making better decisions and just making a few more putts,'' Begay said. ''That's just the way it goes sometimes.''
Begay had to survive a shootout Sunday at the TPC at Southwind course. He had five golfers within two strokes of his lead with four holes left, forcing him to pull off a great chip on the one hole he knew he needed to birdie to win.
He was 20 yards from the hole and off the green of the par-5, 528-yard 16th. Begay pulled out his lob wedge and went right at the hole, landing the ball within 3 feet for his birdie attempt.
''I play to win, and that's the bottom line,'' Begay said. ''That was the only shot I had. I needed to make 4 or at least have a putt at 4. I wasn't into finishing in the top 10.''
May called Begay's chip ''world-class.''
''That's something you see (Phil) Mickelson hit. He didn't have much green to work with with it sloping away from him. I was looking up and I saw the ball land. I thought this thing needs to bite, and it did. The next bounce it stopped on a dime,'' May said.
''It would've been easy to go over the other side.''
May had led after the second and third rounds, but he lost his lead on the back nine Sunday with two straight bogeys. He finished with a 71 and was tied with DiMarco, who closed with a 69.
Pete Jordan (66), Russ Cochran (69) and Joe Ogilvie (70) all tied for fourth at 273.
May and DiMarco each had their chances to force a playoff on the par-4 18th after Begay bogeyed No. 17. DiMarco just missed a 25-footer right of the hole for a birdie a group ahead of May and Begay. May, whose putter deserted him on two short par attempts when he bogeyed Nos. 12 and 14, pushed his 8-foot birdie attempt just left.
''I thought if I made that putt, you never know what could happen,'' said May, who hung on for his best finish ever on tour after going through qualifying last year. ''Notah was playing pretty good. He probably would've made the putt if he had to, but it would've been nice to see what would've happened.''
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