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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Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.

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Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.

Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.

Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.

Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open

Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.

The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.

Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.

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Daly (knee) replaced by Bradley in Open field

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 12:13 pm

Former champion John Daly has withdrawn from The Open because of a right knee injury and will be replaced in the field at Carnoustie by another major winner, Keegan Bradley.

Daly, 52, defeated Costantino Rocca in a memorable playoff to win the claret jug at St. Andrews in 1995. His lingering knee pain led him to request a cart during last month's U.S. Senior Open, and when that request was denied he subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

Daly then received treatment on the knee and played in a PGA Tour event last week at The Greenbrier without the use of a cart, missing the cut with rounds of 77-67. But on the eve of the season's third major, he posted to Twitter that his pain remains "unbearable" and that a second request for a cart was turned down:

This will be just the second time since 2000 that Daly has missed The Open, having also sat out the 2013 event at Muirfield. He last made the cut in 2012, when he tied for 81st at Royal Lytham. He could still have a few more chances to improve upon that record, given that past Open champions remain fully exempt until age 60.

Taking his place will be Bradley, who was first alternate based on his world ranking. Bradley missed the event last year but recorded three top-20 finishes in five appearances from 2012-16, including a T-18 finish two years ago at Royal Troon.

The next three alternates, in order, are Spain's Adrian Otaegui and Americans Aaron Wise and J.B. Holmes.