Beem Shines Brightly at PGA

By Mercer BaggsAugust 18, 2002, 4:00 pm
Rich Beem tried all week to defer the pressure and convince everyone that he wasnt a major championship contender.
Now hes more than a contender, hes a champion.
Add Beems name to the list of unsuspecting winners of the PGA Championship. The former car stereo and cell phone salesman, who turns 32 next week, shot a phenomenal 4-under 68 for a one-shot victory over Tiger Woods (67).
'I didn't know if I had what it took to do it, now I do,' Beem said. 'I'm still surprised at myself. I'm elated beyond belief. I was a lot more in control of my emotions than I ever have been under that kind of pressure.'
Rich Beem on winning his first major.
Beem, in just his fourth ever major championship start, held off a late-charging Woods to become the 12th player in the last 15 years to make this event his maiden major title.

He finished at 10-under-par 278. The 73rd ranked player in the world beat 97 others inside the top 100.
Beem eagled the par-5 11th to take command of the tournament.

Woods then bogeyed 13 and 14 to fall five back. Walking off 14, he told his caddie, If we birdie in, well win the tournament.
He did, but he didnt. Woods birdied 15, 16, 17 and 18 to mount a comeback, only to fall short.
Beem made a 35-footer for birdie at the treacherous 16th at Hazeltine National Golf Club and then finished par-bogey to relegate Tiger to second place in a major for the first time in his career.
'He just trusted and believed in himself and he got the job done,' said Woods, who is now 0-16 when trailing entering the final round of a major. 'Sometimes it may be a benefit to be a little naive in a situation.'
Justin Leonard, who started the day leading Beem by three, turned in 3-over 39 and never factored on the back nine. He shot 5-over 77 to finish tied for fourth, at 4-under.
After coming from oblivion to win the 1999 Kemper Open, Beem wondered if hed ever do so again. Hes now won in each of his last two starts, having captured the International two weeks ago.
But unlike his victory at Castle Pines, this one awards him $990,000 and a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour and into the three other majors. He's forever exempt into the PGA Championship.
Sunday in Chaska, Minn., it took Beem only four holes to overcome his three-shot deficit.
Leonard missed the green at the second and dropped a shot for the first time in 15 holes. Beem then made a pair of six-footers at Nos. 3 and 4. After a routine birdie at the par-5 third, he stuffed a 6-iron from 209 yards at the par-4 fourth to tie Leonard at 8-under.
Woods also made an early statement. After missing the green right from the middle of the fairway at the opening hole, he flubbed his first chip shot, and then holed his second.
He then made a 10-footer for birdie at the fourth, a 12-footer for birdie at the sixth and two-putted from off the green for birdie at the par-5 seventh. Before you could say Rodman Wanamaker, Woods was within one of the lead, at 7-under.
Leonard, who birdied 5 and bogeyed 6, again reached 9-under by making a 12-foot curler for birdie at the seventh ' and again couldnt stay there.
The 1997 British Open champion plunked a 6-iron into the water guarding the front of the par-3 eighth green and made double-bogey-5. His woes continued at the ninth, where he missed the fairway, missed the green and missed his par putt.
Leonards exit paved the path for Beem. And after the 11th, the tournament was his to win or lose.
With 271 yards to the pin, he pulled the ' appropriately enough ' eagle head-cover off his '6-wood' and launched his ball inside of 10 feet of the hole. He then converted the eagle to become the first player in the tournament to move to double-digits under par.
Beem now led Woods by three, at 10-under.
Woods caught a glimpse of the leaderboard while playing the 12th, and inexplicably bogeyed the next two holes. He three-putted from 12 feet at the 13th, and then missed the fairway and hit his second shot over the green at the 14th.
Composure regained, he birdied his final four holes.
Saturday, Beem said if he took the lead into the final three holes hed puke on himself.
That wasnt the case.
With water on both sides of the fairway at the signature par-4 16th, Beem found the short grass off the tee.
'I was probably as committed to that shot as any I've ever hit,' Beem said of his 7-wood tee shot.
On his approach, he barely cleared the reefs right of the green, but poured in the birdie bomb. He then two-putted 17 and harmlessly three-putted 18.
Chris Riley finished alone in third place. Similar to Beem, Riley was making just his fourth career major start. He birdied Nos. 11-13 to get to 7-under, but missed opportunities on 14 and 15 to shoot 70.
Despite a bogey at the last, his finish guaranteed him his first trip to the Masters, in 2003.
The animated Fred Funk, who led through 36 holes, shot 1-over 73 to tie Leonard for fourth place.
Final results from the 84th PGA Championship

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.