Rich Beem and son enjoying first opportunity to play at the PNC Championship
December 18, 2021
By Jeff Babineau , PGATOUR.COM
- December 18, 2021
- 2002 PGA Champion, Rich Beem, and son Michael playing in the week's PNC Championship. (Stephen Pond/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, Fla. — Rich Beem’s victory at the 2002 PGA Championship – coupled with Beem being the dad of a teenaged son who is pretty good at golf – made him eligible to play in the limited-field PNC Championship for winners of major championships. For years, he never received the call.
Recently, Beem even resorted to starting a playful promotional campaign on Twitter, showing off the family trophies and telling PNC tournament officials that “Team Beem” would be ready if called. And then came the email to Beem from PNC Championship director Teo Sodeman. The Goosens – two-time U.S. Open champion Retief and his son, Leo – had to withdraw. Would the Beems like to join this year’s field?
“I couldn’t choke it out fast enough to say ‘Yes,” Beem said, laughing, as he stood on the practice tee at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, site of this week’s PNC, which begins today.
So here they are, Beem, 51, and his 18-year-old son, Michael, a high school senior, ready to rock at the PNC. Beem always knew receiving an invitation would be something special, and the event has somehow managed to exceed his high expectations.
The Beems attended a cocktail reception on Wednesday and were headed to a gala dinner on Friday evening. Practically everywhere they turn will be a Hall of Fame player, or in the case of the LPGA’s Nelly Korda, the event’s first current No. 1 player.
“It’s almost going to feel like the [PGA Championship] Champions Dinner for me,” said Beem, who won the PGA at Hazeltine in 2002, holding off a hard-charging Tiger Woods, who closed with four consecutive birdies. It was the most high-profile triumph of Beem’s three victories on the PGA TOUR.
“It’s that same caliber, if not better, seeing all the great champions,” he said. “I could sit there and follow Lee Trevino around all day long, just listening. He came over and spent about 10 minutes with Michael (at breakfast Thursday). It meant the world to me, but Michael, he was beside himself. Just seeing all these guys here, it’s very special.”
Rich Beem kept a busy schedule in 2021. He worked 24 events as a commentator for SKY Sports and made eight starts on PGA TOUR Champions, his best finish being a tie for 11th at Sunningdale in the Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex.
Rich Beem is 5 feet 8; his son is 6 feet 5. Michael’s sudden high school growth spurt required him to make big adjustments in his swing that have started to show nice results. The last few months he has been playing nicely, hopefully opening some doors to play at the collegiate level. (He already has been accepted to a couple of schools through his academics.)
With Dad on the road working, Michael broke 70 for the first time at the Fredricksburg (Texas) Open, shooting 69, and followed the next day by shooting 63 to win the event. Rich Beem said that he didn’t break 70 for the first time until he was a sophomore in college.
The two will venture out this morning – they are first off, playing alongside Nick and Matthew Faldo at 10:30 a.m. – looking to play well and to make an already terrific week even better.
“We are probably living and dying more by their shots than our shots, by a long stretch,” Rich said. “I will go watch Michael play in junior tournaments and walking outside the ropes, I feel helpless sometimes. But that’s just it. That makes this game so great – there is always something to learn. That’s why Tom Watson is out here [on the practice tee] working on something right now.”
Being part of the elite 20-man field has made for some long days and late afternoons on the range (“I’m ready for a nap about now,” Rich joked on Friday afternoon), but Team Beem would not have it any other way.
“All the sons out here and their dads are grinding,” Beem said. “It’s what we love to do. We want to put our best foot forward for our sons.”