Beem in Need of a Recharge

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SAMMAMISH, Wash. -- Rich Beem wore the look of a worn-out man coming off the Sahalee course Thursday. Beem, playing in his first competitive round since winning the PGA Championship, shot 3-over 74.
 
It was a beautiful day out here today, too bad golf got in the way, he joked.
 
Beem has been very relaxed since a nail-biting victory over Tiger Woods at Hazeltine National Golf Club. But hes also been very busy.
 
Beem has spent most of his waking hours talking about his triumph ' which included getting up at 4:30 AM Wednesday for the Today Show. He said following his first round, it was now time for a little sleep: Im pretty exhausted right now, certainly mentally. Im not going to practice today, Im going to get some rest.'
 

Final-Lee
 
Thursday, Lee Westwood shot his first sub-70 round in the U.S. since February. Westwood had a 3-under 68 in the opening round of the NEC.
 
Two years ago, Westwood was the fifth-ranked player in the world, chasing Tiger Woods for global golf dominance.
 
Now, hes the 10th-ranked player in his own country, chasing the likes of Steve Webster.
 
Westwood has fallen far ' and fast ' over the past two seasons. In terms of his Official World Golf Ranking, hes 144th. In terms of his position among golfs elite, hes no longer ranked.
 
Yeah, you stop looking when (your world ranking) gets to about 30, which was about a year and a half ago, he said.
 
Westwood won 13 official European Tour events in just three years. He won everywhere, on just about every continent. He even captured a PGA Tour title in New Orleans in 1998.
 
Like Woods, Westwoods premiere season was 2000. But unlike his American counterpart, the 29-year-old Englishman hasnt since come close to duplicating his feats.
 
Westwood joined Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie as the only men to win six times in a single year on the European Tour. In the process, he bumped Montgomerie from the Order of Merit perch for the first time in eight years.
 
After nearly two consecutive winless seasons, the Brit believes its just a matter of time before he returns to form.
 
I dont think you lose your ability to play golf, said Westwood, whose wife, Laurae, gave birth to their first child in April of 2001. Once you play at a high level, as soon as you start getting back into a rhythm of things, they come back fairly quickly.
 

To Play or Not to Play
 
Phil Mickelson missed last years Tour Championship to spend time with his family after the birth of his second daughter.
 
He said Thursday he might skip it again, for no pressing reason.
 
I would not say its 100%, but I would say theres a very good chance Ill play, he explained. I like the tournament, but it just depends. Again, I may pack it in after the Ryder Cup or I may play four times. I just dont know.
 
I do feel obligated to play, but, if Im not going to be able to play my best or if I havent been practicing and Im not prepared, it is not in my best interests to play.
 
The event will be contested, with or without Mickelson, Oct. 31-Nov. 3 at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga.
 

Low Scores Expected ' For Now
 
Davis Love III wasnt surprised by the low scores in the opening round of the NEC, but he doesnt think players will continue at the current pace.
 
Yesterday, I played with Brad Faxon and he made 10 birdies. You know, PGA practice rounds, we were hoping to make two or three birdies, said Love, who shot 5-under 66 to finish one off the 18-hole lead.
 
It showed us there were some good scores out there. But I think as the week goes on, it will get tougher and it will firm up and the competition will get tougher. I dont think (the winning score) will be 20-under.
 
Full coverage of the WGC-NEC Invitational