Rich Beem – 2002 PGA Champion


Richard “Rich” Michael Beem is an American professional golfer, best renowned for his upset victory at the 2002 PGA Championship, and for his hole-in-one 2007 Nissan Open at Riviera. In this article, let’s know more about his humble beginnings and how he was able to score such remarkable feats in golf sports history.

Early Career

Rich Beem was born on August 24, 1970, in Phoenix, Arizona though, he grew up in El Paso, Texas. He studied at New Mexico State University, a public research institution in Las Cruces, where he played college golf. It was no surprise as it runs in his blood, with his father, Larry, serving as a golf coach at the same university and retiring in 2004.

In 1994, Beem went professional, relishing his collegiate sport. However, only a year later, he quitted the game and took on a different path, being situated in Seattle and selling cellular phones and car stereo systems. Fortunately, his interest in the sport rekindled after watching J.P. Hayes, a fellow resident from El Paso, Texas, won the 1998 Buick Classic after beating Jim Furyk.

Back On Course

A year after his interest ignited, the rookie Beem emerged victorious at the Kemper Open and saw his career catapult further in 2002 after winning at The International held in Colorado. In the same year, Beem joined the PGA Tour and became triumphant at the 2002 PGA Championship held from August 15 to 18 at the Hazeltine National in Chaska, Minnesota.

During the first round, he shot a par 72 followed by six-under 66 the subsequent round forcing a five-way tie for first place. Things went pretty well in the third round, with him shooting a 72 again, ranking second only three strokes behind first-place Justin Leonard.

In the dramatic fourth round, Beem won an upset against Tiger Woods, who birdied his last four holes, only registering a 9-under clubhouse score, finishing a shot behind him. Justin Leonard, who led the third round, finished six strokes back, settling in a tie for fourth with Fred Funk. The victory was humongous for Beem as it helped carved his name in the top 20 of the Official World Golf Ranking.

In 2007, Beem was set for another achievement after making an ace or hole-in-one at the 2007 Nissan Open at the Riviera Country Club. He won a new red Nissan Altima car for the said coup, which Beem quickly embraced, climbed, and sat atop in celebration. It was so momentous that the scene was made into a commercial for the automotive company. Beem said that his inspiration for the antic was Peter Jacobsen, who also aced the same hole 13 years ago, winning a Nissan 300ZX sports car and hopping on it after his triumph.

PGA Tour Logo

Laying Back

In 2010, Beem moved out of the limelight after going under the knife to fix his C6 and C7 vertebrae. Though he was only estimated to be out for about six weeks for the given back surgery, there were certain issues during the rehabilitation process, consuming the rest of the year and halting his return.

Beem went back in the 2011 season and was granted a medical exemption though requiring him to get $658,100 in 17 events. The first six cuts saw Beem missing, and it was only at the Valero Texas Open where he managed to pull through, finishing a tie in 15th place. Then, in a total of 21 events, Beem only made a mere five cuts, causing him to lose his tour card and moving him into the Past Champions category in 2012.Sky Sports LogoThree years later, Beem found a new role, serving as a commentator and an analyst for the sport he loves. He acknowledged that his ability in making a living out of gold already had run its course. So, with the advice of the people surrounding him, citing he’d be a great sportscaster, Beem pursued and reached out to different people, eventually finding his way to Sky Sports to do commentaries. He claims it is one of the most rewarding things he did, finding the job of being an analyst and commentator as challenging and gratifying as playing golf.

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