Beem says giving spot to Poulter 'right thing to do'

By Doug FergusonOctober 20, 2015, 10:30 pm

Rich Beem agreed Tuesday to give his spot in the Hong Kong Open to a player who would otherwise have lost his European Tour membership and been ineligible to play in the Ryder Cup next year. Under those circumstances, he said he would have made that sacrifice for any player.

Even if that player was Ian Poulter.

"I'm not looking to gain anything from this," Beem told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "I looked at it in the simplest terms. There's a guy who loses his tour membership if I don't step away. Is it anymore awkward because it's Ian Poulter? I don't know and I don't care. It was the right thing to do."

Poulter has to play a minimum 13 events on the European Tour to keep his membership and be eligible for the Ryder Cup, where he has compiled a 12-4-2 record and was largely responsible for two of the last three European wins.

The Englishman was counting on playing the HSBC Champions in Shanghai in two weeks. But with Andy Sullivan and Emiliano Grillo winning tournaments last week, they moved into the top 50 and bumped Poulter to No. 51, and he was out of the World Golf Championship event in China.

He did not enter the Hong Kong Open, and all the sponsor exemptions were taken.

That's when the European Tour went to Beem and asked him if he were interested in giving his exemption to Poulter. Beem said a tour official called him Monday night when he was asleep after the long flight from Texas, and only after making a few phone calls did he appreciate what Poulter was facing.

"At the end of the day, I was their obvious choice," Beem said. "I wasn't going to say 'no' and be a jerk. It was a situation where the right thing needed to happen. And this was the right thing."

Beem, who won the 2002 PGA Championship at Hazeltine, spent most of the year working as an analyst for Sky Sport. He said the Hong Kong Golf Club is among his favorite in the world, and he talked his family into taking one more trip, tapping into his airline miles to get a ticket.

"I want to play in the worst way," Beem said. "But there were no other options, and I'm not going to keep a guy from losing all his status and not be eligible for the Ryder Cup. So I stepped aside. I didn't think twice about it or ask for huge demands."

Poulter scrambled to get a visa for Hong Kong, which arrived Tuesday morning about two hours before his flight to New York to make a connection to Hong Kong. He was not due to arrive until Wednesday afternoon, and he planned to hire a local caddie because his caddie is on vacation.

Poulter went on Twitter to thank Beem for giving up the invitation, adding, "Where would you like me to take you for dinner?"

"Are we talking about dinner every day in 2016?" Beem said with a laugh. "I kind of saved you here, pards."

Poulter can be a lightning rod for the U.S. fans and even some players for being outspoken, talking about his collection of Ferrari's or making so many putts, especially in the Ryder Cup. His five straight birdies in a fourballs match Saturday night at Medinah led to Europe's record-tying comeback in 2012.

"I kind of jokingly thought, 'Maybe I should call Capt. (Davis) Love to see what I should do," Beem said. "He's totally wrecked us with his putting."

Beem is sticking around Hong Kong to work for the European Tour Productions commentary team. He spent 27 weeks this year for Sky Sports, and his last full season on the PGA Tour was in 2012. But the 45-year-old Beem wanted to play Hong Kong, and tournament sponsor UBS gave him a spot.

"I still enjoy playing competitively, I really like this golf course and I came over to compete," Beem said. "It does sting coming halfway around the world. But it's not my nature to step in someone's way to screw them over. I have no desire to that. Let him play."

Beem said all he wanted in return was a spot in the Hong Kong Open next year. His phone was filled with text messages when he woke up Wednesday morning in Hong Kong, and he wasn't looking forward to what he described as an awkward meeting with Poulter.

"Now if he wants to give me one of his red Ferrari's for Christmas ... not that I'm asking for one," Beem said with a laugh.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.