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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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.