Walking to the 17th tee in regulation, Notah Begay III was two shots behind Tom Byrum and Mike Weir and prepared to play it safe.
With a good finish, he reasoned, he would climb into the top 40 on the money list, qualify for his first trip to next year's Masters and go home more than happy.
When he got to the tee, though, his aggressive nature took over.
"I told my caddie, 'We're out here to win. I'm going for the flag,' " Begay said yesterday after he made up two strokes over the last two holes of regulation to force a playoff with Byrum, then won the Michelob Championship on the second extra hole in Williamsburg.
Begay won with a four-foot par putt on the par-4 16th after he and Byrum took turns gaining the apparent upper hand, then opening the door for the other.
"Inexplicable, the emotions," said Begay, who won $450,000.
Begay, the only Native American on the PGA Tour, won for the second time in his rookie season when Byrum drove left on the 427-yard 16th at Kingsmill, had to chip back into the fairway and left his 15-foot par putt short.
The playoff was the 10th of the season on tour, and the second of Byrum's career. He also lost in a six-way battle in the 1994 Byron Nelson Classic.
"I thought I'd be happier going into the week if I could just get in a playoff and have a chance to win. That was my goal," he said after earning $270,000. "After getting beat in a playoff, it doesn't feel as good as I thought it would."
SENIORS: Bruce Fleisher shot a 5-under 67 to win the $1.1 million Transamerica Championship in Napa, Calif., by one stroke, his sixth victory in his first year on the Senior PGA Tour. Fleisher's 17-under 199 was a tournament record and the first prize of $165,000 put him over the $2 million mark this year and kept him atop the money list.
LPGA: Rookie Mi Hyun Kim fired a 2-under 70 and fought off three challengers to win the rain-delayed Betsy King Classic in Kutztown, Pa., by one stroke. Kim, 22, who began the day tied with two others one stroke off the lead, finished at 8-under 280.
DUNHILL CUP: Spain won its first Dunhill Cup title, defeating Australia amid 35 mph winds off the Firth of Tay in St. Andrews, Scotland. The Spaniards won 2-1 behind victories from Jose Maria Olazabal (over Stephen Leaney) and Miguel Angel Jimenez (over Peter O'Malley). The Aussies' only win came when Craig Parry edged Sergio Garcia.