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.'
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