The story of this yr’s PGA Championship has consumed so many narratives, it should be staring within the mirror questioning why its trousers don’t match.
With champion Phil Mickelson watching from afar because the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Collection looms massive, and Tiger Woods seeking to pull off one other miracle, you’d be forgiven for overlooking Wealthy Beem’s particular anniversary.
However the American’s unlikely triumph at Hazletine in 2002 is extra related than you suppose.
Woods, having gained six of the final 9 accessible Majors on the time, misplaced the PGA Championship by one shot to Beem – who was ranked 73rd on the planet and 284th initially of that yr.
“Nah, he wasn’t taking part in that good,” Beem jokes with talkSPORT.com. “He was struggling!”
Everyone hates shedding, however the purpose Woods is strolling Southern Hills this week is as a result of he hates it extra.
And it seems Beem has been dwelling rent-free in his head ever since beating him all these years in the past.
Beem remembers: “In 2016, when the Ryder Cup was at Hazletine, Tiger was a Ryder Cup captain for the US squad and I used to be up on the twelfth inexperienced, simply ready for the following group of Individuals to come back by means of, I used to be simply strolling the golf course.
Federer is saved as ‘Geezer’ in Ward’s cellphone because of Xhaka’s Arsenal sulk
“He was in the group walking down 12 fairway and he just blurts out from about 20 yards away, ‘How the f*** did you reach the 11th hole in two?’
“I needed a little bit of help and I got it from him, but I also played extremely well. He would’ve had to play that much better than me and thankfully he didn’t.
“If he wants to ask me about that second shot again, I would be happy to describe it to him in full detail. It was pretty wild.”
Beem, now 51, will share the field with Woods in the same tournament they contested 20 years ago, as both men try to overcome the sheer pain of playing golf.
“As much as I enjoy playing this game, it hurts,” Beem said, speaking via BoyleSports Bet on Golf.
“My body hurts a lot after playing the practice rounds and if I made it through all four rounds, I’d be pretty worthless after that!”
Woods knows a thing or two about pain. His career has felt like a series of Everests, some self-inflicted, but all somehow climbed.
Greater than twenty years on from the well-known ‘Tiger Slam’, we all know he’s human in spite of everything: he makes errors and will get injured like one.
However his energy and energy to beat stays superhuman; finishing 72 holes on the Masters in April, little greater than a yr after a automotive crash which may have killed him.
Beem provides: “It should’ve been excruciating, I felt horrible for him strolling up the 72nd gap, you can see the ache he was going by means of.
“To place himself by means of that mentally and bodily, I can promise you, no different golfer on the planet would even take into consideration that. And but he did it.”
However the first man to show Woods as a human on the golf course was Beem.
Right here we’ve got a man who was promoting telephones and automotive stereos whereas Tiger turned probably the most well-known folks on the planet with a record-breaking victory on the 1997 Masters.
Golf is, in fact, the closest sport to life itself – and Beem’s little jig of reduction on the 18th inexperienced virtually encapsulated that higher than a Tiger fist-pump ever may.
And the way did he slay the best golfer of all-time? Simple. Fajitas and two bottles of beer.
Beem remembers: “After we bought executed with golf on Saturday, proper subsequent to the resort is a Chili’s.
“As an American, I really like myself some Chili’s. Fajitas for 2. Queso dip. And so they bought a number of the coldest beer on ice proper there.
“I used to be in all probability fascinated about having a 3rd one, I used to be simply so drained and actually wished to go to sleep and recover from the Sunday. I simply wished it to be over with.”
He continues: “The jig got here from pure reduction, relatively than the rest, ‘It’s lastly over with!’
“That night, the celebrations went very lengthy into the following morning. I didn’t fairly see the solar come up however I wasn’t asleep for very lengthy. You’re simply sitting there laughing and guffawing like, ‘Holy crap, did that simply occur?’ Sure, it definitely did.
“It might take a number of hours to undergo all of the worst tales we had on that Sunday night time, however we rattling positive loved it.”
It’s normally simple to overlook Tiger isn’t the one story on the town, however not this week. Mickelson has lived most of his life in Woods’ shadow – however his story would possibly rival his nice rival’s this time.
The oldest-ever Main champion won’t defend his title, pulling out of the match after a whirlwind three months which have seen him go from considered one of golf’s most beloved characters to public enemy primary.
The LIV Golf Collection, a controversial Saudi-backed breakaway league, has put the golf world at struggle with itself – and controversial feedback from Mickelson in February lit the fuse.
Tuesday noticed the discharge of an unauthorised biography in regards to the 51-year-old – with tales which are set to dominate the agenda this week, together with the looming shadow of LIV Golf.
“The feedback that had been made, him stepping away from the sport, not being right here to defend, it’s surreal,” Beem continues.
“I’m not too positive what he’s bought in retailer going ahead, however staying out of the limelight can solely assist somebody like Phil. He’s been within the highlight for 35 years and typically you want to step away and reassess every thing in your life.
“Even on the age of 51, he’s nonetheless bought a ton of sport, however you may’t have a ton of sport and have distractions off the golf course. That’ll maintain you again eight days per week. You want steadiness contained in the ropes inside and out of doors the week.”
That brings us to the very last thing on anybody’s thoughts: who is definitely going to win this factor? In opposition to a backdrop of chaos, Jordan Spieth may make historical past.
World primary Scottie Scheffler appears to be like fairly unstoppable proper now, as does Spieth – who can develop into the sixth man in golf to win all 4 Majors with a victory at Southern Hills.
Beem’s fellow Texan, again from years within the wilderness, has a victory and a runner-up end in his final two occasions – and that’s with a chilly putter.
“He must get on the market and put within the time,” Beem says. “Focus solely on 5 toes and in.
“Whether or not he’s going to take a look at the opening or the golf ball, he’s bought to make up his thoughts. That’s the laborious half about watching him proper now, what’s he going to do from 5 toes?”
If not Spieth, then who? Rory McIlroy, the opposite man chasing that elusive Grand Slam with three out of the 4 titles, is searching for a primary Main victory because the 2014 PGA Championship.
And he’s not the one Brit that Beem fancies this week.
“Boy, I believe it’s going to be a battle on the market,” Beem says. “You’ve bought Scottie Scheffler speaking about how a lot he loves the golf course, he says it’s his favorite.
“For the European competition, I’ve bought Rory McIlroy, he’s getting primed. Justin Thomas is so shut, Jon Rahm as nicely.
“I’ve additionally bought Matt Fitzpatrick. He’s bought loads of self-discipline in his sport and I believe that’s what you want to play Southern Hills successfully, you’ve bought to have self-discipline, firing away from flagsticks, and also you want an excellent quick sport if you these miss these greens – he’s bought that.”
Even a victory for England’s Fitzpatrick, who has by no means gained on the PGA Tour, would pale in significance to what Beem achieved 20 years in the past.