The PGA Championship

Interview with Rich Beem

Winner of the 2002 PGA Championship

August 18, 2002

(Note: The interview is moderated by Julius Mason, the PGA's Director of Media Relations and Public Relations)

JULIUS MASON: Rich Beem, ladies and gentlemen, is your 2002 PGA champion.

Rich, congratulations. How about opening up with just some thoughts on your round out there today, please.

RICH BEEM: This is unexpected. (Laughs).

Gosh, I don't even know where to begin. Started out, I was actually -- I couldn't believe how calm I was in the hotel room. I actually mustered down a pretty solid breakfast this morning and had a kink in my neck, so worked out in the trailer and for the most part, worked it out for most of the day, but it's still a little sore.

I felt pretty good on the practice range today and on the putting green, but still, honestly, as I told you all week, I had no expectations of playing this good. I mean, I knew I could, but under the pressure and the scrutiny and whatnot, I was a little nervous.

I just found out a way to kind of control my nerves today. I started off with a couple solid holes and went to No. 3, hit it pretty close there, made that. And then the next one was No. 4, it was just a perfect 6-iron for me and just hit a great shot in there and made that.

Then kind of had a couple solid holes and we got to No. 7, I had, like, 260 to the hole or something like that and my caddie goes, "Well, what do you think?" I go, "Well, we really haven't backed off all week. Do you think we ought to now? I don't think so," hit the wood. So, pulled out the 3-wood and hit it, I didn't hit it great, I heeled it a little bit. I knew if I was going to miss it, I was going to miss it to the right and had a putt up over the hill and made birdie there.

No. 8 is just unbelievably tough, and just hit a 7-iron, just pulled it a little bit and didn't hit a very good bunker shot in there. I was actually afraid the ball might start rolling on me, so I called over to the rules official that was walking with us and I asked him what would have happened and I would have been penalized if the ball would have moved, so I went in there more gingerly than I probably would have. Made a really good up-and-down on No. 9.

10 was just a solid hole.

11, I knew we could get it there, so I just went after a big drive and got it and actually hit my 5-/7-wood to -- I don't know how far it was, about six feet I guess, and it was a pretty easy putt. Just get it going on the right edge and poured that one in.

Then I played 12 pretty solid.

13, was another, it was the same exact number we had on No. 4, so it was just a perfect 6-iron; and hit that in there about eight feet and made that.

And then my nerves starting kicking in a little bit. On the next hole, I hit it right down the middle, but my ball was half in a divot and half out of it, and I just went ahead and tried to hit a little bit too much of a wedge and came up and out of it, and that's when it plugged in the bunker. But it really wasn't that hard of a shot because it was on upslope and alls you have to do is go after it and pop it on the green, which is what I did, and I hit it about eight feet or whatever it was. I thought it was going to break a little more. I saw Justin (Leonard) putt along the same line and I just happened to miss that.

Hit a good drive and 3-wood on 15 and just left my chip shot short and just missed that one.

Then, 16, I told you yesterday, if I had the lead by a couple, I might puke, but actually I was probably as committed to that shot I've been to any shot that I've ever hit. And I hit a beautiful little 7-wood out there, and I was -- that's when I got a little bit nervous. I felt really pumped up and I was afraid I was going to hit my 9-iron too far, I had 148 and I felt that, you know, if I really go after this, and I hit it solid, it's going to go long.

So, I tried to back off a little bit and I pushed it, and I honestly thought that I didn't know if it was going to clear the hazard or not; luckily, it did. What can I say about the putt, it was just unbelievable.

17, hit a 7-iron, just exactly where I was trying to, just right in middle of the green and I knew I could get it up the hill from there. Then I took my time on 18 drive, just took a deep breath and just whacked that sucker right down the middle. Found out that I had a two-stroke lead and the same thing there, I didn't want to get too aggressive and knock it over the green, so I just thinned an 8-iron just on the front edge and managed to three-jiggle it down there.

Yay. Yay, me. (Laughs).

Q. At what point did you realize Tiger was making his charge down the stretch and how did you feel about it?

RICH BEEM: Honestly, I didn't even know. I was not -- I was not really interested in anything like that. I heard the roars. I knew he made birdie on 15. I didn't know -- did he make birdie on 16? Oh, 15, 16, 17? I figured he made birdie on 17, I knew he made birdie on 18. Honestly, I was too concerned with myself than I was about Tiger. I don't want that to sound pompous, but I was trying to control what I was doing and not control what he was doing. So, I didn't even really know, to be honest with you.

Q. Firstly, yesterday you were in here saying you didn't think you had what it took to win a major; do you think that's another guy? Talk about that a little bit. Secondly, it seemed that 16, you were kind of begging for that thing not to go in the hazard, that ball not to go into the hazard, do you think that's where it was won and lost?

RICH BEEM: Absolutely. When I sat up here yesterday, I didn't know if I had what it took to win it. Obviously, I found out today that I do, and I'm actually still surprised at myself for it. I mean, I am elated beyond belief, but I found where to put the pressure. I know how to control it a little bit better now, so I can learn to feed off that.

But honestly, my first two wins, I didn't know because I was shaking like a leaf coming down the last two holes on both of them, not that I was not shaking like a leaf here, but I was a lot more in control of my emotions than I ever had been, under that sort of pressure.

Q. Winning your first major championship, obviously, speaks for itself, but knowing that you finished a shot ahead of Tiger Woods, can you talk about that and just what that might mean down the road?

RICH BEEM: Yeah, actually, this was kind of a funny little story. There's a family, I guess, in Kansas, last name of Beem. They wrote to me after I won the Kemper and I kind of -- I think I sent them some golf balls or something, but I sent them my e-mail address this year and they e-mailed me back and the e-mail, the subject says, "Beem Wins 2002 by One Over Woods."

I mean, I looked -- actually, the funny thing is, I'm on my e-mail this morning, going, "Yeah, right. Whatever." It's real funny, because I don't know if I'll -- I think it would be different if it was a situation like Tiger and Bob May at Valhalla a couple of years ago. I think that it would probably feel a little bit different then.

I think that he was usually a couple strokes back of me pretty much for most of the back nine, so it really wasn't like Valhalla where Bob and Tiger were slugging it out stroke for stroke, and that was some unbelievable golf. So, I think it's a little bit different.

I think just winning it and doing it in the fashion that I did, speaks volumes to me, more than anything else.

Q. Are you or did you, will you, e-mail that family back? And secondly --

RICH BEEM: Yeah, I probably will. I'm really afraid to look at my e-mail now and I'm really afraid about my cell phone, but I think I can afford the next cell phone bill now.

Q. On 13, it was really your first chance that you looked at the leaderboard and you had about an eight or 10-foot putt and you had a four-shot lead. Did it take you by surprise? What was going through your head?

RICH BEEM: Yeah, I actually was trying to slow myself down and I kept trying to talk to my caddie, just really slow myself down and not get too far ahead of the game because I knew there was some tough holes coming up, especially the last three.

So, I was really, more than anything else, just trying to keep my emotions in check and not think about it. Every time I did think about the outcome and the things that go along with winning, I kind of chewed myself out a little bit so I would not get too far ahead of myself.

You know, I knew where I stood and I knew that anything can happen, and just like everybody said, Tiger made that great charge coming back.

Q. When that putt trickles in on 16, at that point, you're 11-under, it doesn't matter what Tiger does, anyone else does, you've basically won the tournament --

RICH BEEM: I wouldn't have thought that. I mean, 17 is a really tough hole and so is 18, but go ahead. (Laughing).

Q. It almost seemed like you didn't know what you wanted to do and then you ended up putting the ball in the water --

RICH BEEM: That came out of my wild spirit, I guess. I was pretty fired up, obviously. I was really glad that there was a long walk from 16 green to 17 tee box, so I could slow myself down and that wasn't really possible because there was about 85,000 people screaming at the top of their lungs. That is really cool -- all of the writers walking with us, how cool is it, every hole, people are screaming at the top of their lungs; it's like a rock concert out there, it was really cool.

I got up there and I took a deep breath and focused in on what I wanted to do on 17. I think after I putted out on 17, then I knew it was more of a -- not a lock, but I knew I was in pretty good position more so than after I made the putt on 16.

Q. Can you compare winning the first time at (the 1999) Kemper to winning this in terms of where you were in your career then and now, and how much did winning there help you get to where you are now?

RICH BEEM: You know, never forget your first win, but I think, to me and my career right now, it seems like an eternity ago, just because I've matured so much more out of golf than anything else, and a lot of it has to do with my beautiful bride, Sarah, she grounds me on the days I need to be grounded and she lets me be a free spirit on the days that is it's okay.

The win at Kemper was extraordinary for me because it gave me the opportunity to go out and find out how good I was because if I had not won there, I probably would not have been on the Tour the next year.

But, I think that the win at The International last week really kind of gave me the confidence to come out and do what I did today, more than anything else, but certainly, the first victory was very meaningful.

Q. Can you describe what it was that you found that worked for you under pressure today?

RICH BEEM: Well, I don't know if this is going to sound right or whatnot. But, actually, I really just focused in on tightening up my abdominal muscles. I know it sounds kind of crazy, but when I did that, I was able to take out the pressure out of my arms and shoulders. I don't know how I found it or why it came about, but when I did it, it just felt like my arms and shoulders, it just took away a lot of the tension in my arms and shoulders and I was able to make a pretty free stroke.

Yesterday, I didn't feel like I had good speed with the putter just because my hands were shaking a little bit. But today, I mean, I got over some of these putts and my hands were just as calm and collected as I could be. I told my wife, I have to do some more Pilates and work out a little bit more to keep my stomach in shape.

Q. Any friends or family here and who was the first person you'll call after something like this?

RICH BEEM: My dad is probably the first person I'm going to call, and then my mom is going to be the second and probably the third.

And last person I'm going to call is my best friend, David, in Seattle. I'm going to go see him tonight. He was -- he and I have been best friends since I worked up in Seattle. We've been through a lot together. I can't get into details of the relationship, but I'm looking forward to seeing him tonight, late.

Q. Even though you accomplished more with this championship, the comparisons to John Daly are obvious. One, did you watch John's win at Crooked Stick (in the 1991 PGA Championship), and two, can you remember any of your thoughts about it as you watched that sort of fairy tale play out?

RICH BEEM: Yeah, I remember watching it with my dad. And I remember I was nervous for him. This guy was just, like, he didn't have a care in the world. I'm just stressing out over every shot and I can't imagine what my father went through today. He was probably a wreck, wasn't he, Ash? (To wife.)

Yeah, watching John win that, that was just spectacular, just no-holds-barred attitude and just attacked everything. I guess I kind of had a similar thought this week. When I played a practice round with Fuzzy (Zoeller) and John (Daly) , I hit driver pretty much everywhere and Fuzzy was like, "Why?" I go, well, I've already had an unbelievable year as it was. I won, I've made over $1.6 million, I'm so far ahead of the game right now, it's unbelievable, why not free-wheel it a little bit. That's kind of my style.

I think this win is similar to John's win in that he just went out and free-wheeled it and he had nothing to lose, like I felt.

Q. Could you please give a brief description of your experiences at each of the first three majors you played before this?

RICH BEEM: Yeah, Carnoustie (the 1999 British Open) -- Carnoustie was no fun whatsoever. The week started off poorly. I got into a little altercation over there and my week kind of soured from there and the golf course was even worse. It was no fun. I took my dad over -- that was probably the highlight of it, and other than that, it was no fun.

And then the (1999) PGA Championship at Medinah, I really felt like I worked hard to get in while I was there, and had some pretty good practice rounds, played a practice round with Payne Stewart, and he really -- he showed me some things that I'll never forget about the golf course. I played pretty decent there, made the cut, but I didn't play very good on the weekend.

And the last one was the (2001 U.S.) Open at Southern Hills, and same thing. I felt like I hit the ball great, but still, just not having any -- not having experienced many major championships just kind of hurt me there because I was a little unprepared for how the course was set up.

Q. A day or two ago, you were talking about your experiences as a teaching pro and you didn't think you were very good. Now, sitting there, with that trophy, had you been a good teaching pro, would you be here today or would you be teaching golf somewhere?

RICH BEEM: If I really enjoyed being a professional, a golf professional, I would not be sitting here. But I liked some aspects of it, but there's a lot of aspects that I did not enjoy.

Teaching was part of it. The long hours, the meager pay, I mean, you name it. There's a lot of things that weren't fun about it.

But, then again, I was close to golf, so I loved it. So it was kind of one of those love/hate things going. You know, I can't think that -- Bill is sitting right there, I can't thank (PGA Professional) Bill (Eschenbrenner) and Cameron Doan enough for giving me the opportunity to go to El Paso Country Club. This is more about El Paso Country Club than work as a golf professional. El Paso Country Club did such wonderful things for my psyche and my game, nobody will even know. I share this with all them. I guess we're going to have another party when we get home, Ash? Oh, boy.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about your relationship with your dad and his influence on your golf game and sort of what you think he thinks, and what does this mean to win the PGA Championship, as far as having been a club pro? Your dad's role in the game, it's maybe not quite as glamorous as you guys have every weekend?

RICH BEEM: Yeah, I've spent a lot of time around the game of golf and I see what my dad goes through. He was awesome as a professional. He was out there mowing greens, picking range balls sometimes. He loved to teach. He's a college golf coach now, so that's right up his alley.

He loved golf. He gave his whole life to it. Just being around golf and being around him, I mean, I can't wait to get home and share this with my father because I think -- and I look forward to just he and I together, having a few beers, hanging out and just looking at this thing and staring at it, looking at all of the names, being silly with it, I guess.

Yeah, having my father as a PGA -- or PGA Professional, this is even more so meaningful to me.

Q. Earlier in the week, you talked about all of the cool things you get when you win this thing. Given that and the money, the exemptions, multiple-win season, is it time to get rid of the Magnolia Hi-Fi ID card?

RICH BEEM: Absolutely not. Don't ever forget where you came from and that's where I came from. I came from a job that it served it's purpose, but not a chance. I'm going to keep that card forever, just as a reminder it could always be worse, you could be working at Magnolia Hi -Fi, trying to get a one dollar spiff on a one dollar cell phone.

Q. On No. 11, how far did you have on that second shot and is the 5-/7-wood --

RICH BEEM: Yeah, I think it's probably closer to a 5-wood. I think we had 248 front, 263 hole, if I remember correctly. I remember 248 front and we were a little downwind and I just smoked it.

Q. Do you carry that club all the time?

RICH BEEM: Yeah, actually, I've carried that club -- I carried it a couple years ago, when I was with Callaway, I carried my Callaway 7-wood and I switched over to TaylorMade this year, I had them make me a couple different ones. It took a little while to get one dialed in, but this one is a little bit stronger than a 7-wood -- it's like a 6-wood almost.

The only time I ever switch it out, is like last week at the -- I'm sorry, two weeks ago at The International, when I needed to get the ball up a little bit more, I put actually a 7-wood in that had, like, two degrees more loft. That's the only time I ever really switch them out. But it's a mainstay in my bag.

Q. To win a major is a wonderful thing, but with your background, your father's background, to win the PGA Championship, how special is that?

RICH BEEM: It's almost indescribable. Just to win any tournament is unbelievable, and I -- I don't know when this is going to sink in. Right now, I am so flabbergasted about this, you have no idea.

But I think just same thing with Davis Love -- I remember when Davis won at Winged Foot (in the 1997 PGA Championship), it meant so much to him because his father was a PGA Professional. It's along those same lines. My father, he's been with the PGA for more than 25 years. Just loves the game of golf, still plays all the time, still comes over to my house, steals golf balls and putters and woods and irons and just loves the game of golf and has given his life to it.

I just think that it's the neatest thing and I can't get -- I can't wait to get home and show them off.

Q. Can you please expand on what you mean by a "little altercation" at Carnoustie?

RICH BEEM: I got arrested for a DUI over in the town of Ayr.

Q. And the punishment was?

RICH BEEM: About a $600 or $700 fine, but the worst punishment was the embarrassment that went with it. I've said this before, but, yeah, it was a pretty low time in my life and I'm still very embarrassed by it, but I did it and I move on.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Justin and how he had to deal with leading after three and with Tiger sort of lurking, maybe it helped you that you were a couple back and kind of in that sort of, I don't know, easy-to-forget spot there?

RICH BEEM: I've always been easy to forget. (Laughs). You know, it just didn't seem like he had his rhythm today, especially with the irons. He hit a couple of wayward shots.

He was wonderful to play with today and a true gentleman and it was enjoyable playing with him the past two days. He didn't have his best stuff today. I don't really know if he got -- I don't think he got caught up thinking about Tiger or anything because he and I were tied after, like, the fourth hole or something like that and it was kind of he and I for a little while.

And then, after No. 8, it kind of seemed to -- I don't want to say he fell apart, because he didn't. He just, I think it took a little bit of the wind out of his sails. We had a wonderful time today and we chatted a few holes and it was great.

Q. Will you go over the length of your birdie putts on the front side, and 16, and the 3-putt on 18?

RICH BEEM: The length of my -- that was my only 3-putt of the tournament, by the way.

The one on No. 3 was about eight feet, six to eight feet.

No. 4 was about the same length.

The eagle putt on 7 started off at about 45, 50 feet and role it up to within 12 inches.

The eagle putt on 11 was about six feet.

16 was the better half of 30 feet, I would imagine, 30, 35 feet.

Q. You got married this year, right?

RICH BEEM: December 14. Chris Riley is getting married on that same day this year, too.

Q. Is this still like a honeymoon for you?

RICH BEEM: Every day is a honeymoon, absolutely.

I took a bold step this year, after we played well at Doral, I told her to quit her job. She was traveling more than I was, she worked at Merck as a scientific liaison between the company and the doctors.

So, after Doral, I wanted her to travel with me more often, so she did. She quit her job a little early. We had actually talked about her working this entire year and then after I had a pretty good start, I said, you know, "Go ahead and quit and I just want you traveling with me, full-time."

Having her on the road with me is phenomenal. She takes care of all the small stuff that I just don't want to deal with, hotel reservations, you name it, she does all the small things and that just really is a huge lift off of my shoulders, so I can't thank her enough.

She gets the check by the way. I don't know why anybody thinks I've got a lot of money now. (Smiling).

Q. What's more of a surprise, winning the Kemper at that point of your career, or winning this now?

RICH BEEM: They are almost pretty equal. Probably the Kemper, I guess, because I really -- you know, I had no track record, I kind of came out of nowhere to win. In fact, what was it, Golf World, put on the logo, on the top, "Who in the world is Rich Beem?"

v

I don't know if there's a Golf Week or -- Golf Digest or Golf Week. I've been twice on Tour and I haven't been on the cover of either magazine. Is there anyway you guys can get me on the cover this time? I mean, seriously. (Laughter.)

I think the one at the Kemper Open was probably -- I mean, you know, it's hard to say, Jeff, because they are both so unbelievable. I came out of nowhere to win The Kemper and I just kind of hung out here all week and finally just kind of broke through and got on a role.

Q. The key to your win through the 72 holes, your putting improved this week; right?

RICH BEEM: Yeah, my putting was outstanding again this week. Same thing as what happened at The International. And even The Kemper, I just, I putted so good the first round, and then was pretty Steady Eddie, and today, I putted real good. I didn't have a lot of putts to save par, and when you don't put that pressure on yourself, it really makes a difference. My putter was been just unbelievable.

Q. Among the cool things you get with this is a spot in the Masters field. Can you comment on that?

RICH BEEM: And the U.S. Open for five years; and the British Open for five years; a berth in the 2002 PGA Grand Slam of Golf; a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour; 130 Ryder Cup points for the 2004 Ryder Cup Matches, provided he is American-born, which I am; and 30 points 2002 PGA Tour Player of the Year award. (Laughter.) What else?

JULIUS MASON: You're going to be a lot of fun this year.

Q. Of all those perks, what do you like the most, and secondly, does this change your perspective about yourself as a golfer?

RICH BEEM: Probably as is a different perspective of myself as a golfer. I think I'm going to have a lot more confidence.

All of these are cool. I mean, does anybody know how to play -- probably going to get Tiger and he's just going to bump me in that Grand Slam of Golf. He's just going to hammer me. That's going to be great. (Laughter.)

JULIUS MASON: It's stroke, not match, so you're okay.

RICH BEEM: Cool. It's match-play wasn't it?

JULIUS MASON: A couple years.

RICH BEEM: All right. (Laughter.) Get to go to Hawaii again, that's really cool.

The trophy is the coolest thing. I will always have one of these. And seeing these names on this trophy, unbelievable. I think this is the coolest thing I can get out of all of it, for me anyways.

JULIUS MASON: Good answer.

Q. You've won two out of the last three weeks and now you're headed to Seattle (for the NEC Invitational), playing in front of all your friends? Can you possibly regroup and contend?

RICH BEEM: I hope so. I think, right now, I'm pretty down to earth. Right now, I'm pretty well-grounded because honestly, I haven't -- I haven't really recovered from The International win.

But I hope so. I mean, I don't have an answer for that. I guess I'll find out next week. It would help that I'm strong enough, mentally, to do so. I don't like to break promises, but I think after the event in Sahalee, I'm supposed to play Vancouver but I'm going to go visit my friends anyways and go fishing. I think I'm going to need to go home and catch my breath because this has taken a lot out of me, but it's definitely all worth it.

Q. Can you describe the victory jig you did there on the 18th green?

RICH BEEM: Oh, I was just making it up, I have no idea. I probably looked like a total idiot out there, but you know what, I won, it doesn't matter.

Q. Did you talk to Tiger?

RICH BEEM: I did. He was cordial, as he always is, and he congratulated me. I was giggling so hard, you can't even believe it. It was great. I mean, Tiger Woods is going to go down as, I think, the greatest player of all time, and it was really cool.

Q. Have you given any thought, yet, to defending your title next year and all that entails?

RICH BEEM: Are you kidding me? (Laughter.) I just barely won this one. I don't even know where it's at next year. I'm sorry, that's probably rude to say.

JULIUS MASON: Oak Hill.

RICH BEEM: Rochester, New York? I'm sorry. Whistling Straits (for the 2004 PGA Championship), that's going to be really cool. My caddie, Billy, he's from Wisconsin, so I'm sure we'll have a lot of people out there. Hazeltine, in 2009, sweet; I think I'll come back for that one. Sahalee, looking forward to that one.

You know, I haven't even thought about what this win means to me yet, but it's going to be -- I think what's going to really be interesting, for me, is now, when I get introduced on the first tee, I'll be announced as the 2002 PGA champion and that will probably send shivers up my spine.

Q. They say life is supposed to change after you win a major. Do you expect your life to change? And secondly, you talk about tightening your abdominal muscles; does that mean you walked around sucking in your stomach?

RICH BEEM: Yes, it does.

Lifestyle changes, no. I mean, I don't think so. I can't -- it's not like I'm going to pick up and leave El Paso any time soon. We just bought a house, so I have to pay for that over the next 30 years. I don't think so. I don't know why it would or why it should.

Q. Correct me if I'm wrong, but my read of the situation is that your dad was a very good golfer and a good teacher, he had some expectations of you, and from what I've read, maybe you squandered a few of those years --

RICH BEEM: I don't know if he had that many expectations of me as a golfer. He knew I had it in me, but he never pushed me.

Q. Do you think, as you look back on your years, obviously, it's chronicled in the book, do you think that somehow your dad -- today is something special for your dad because of the fact that maybe you're a bit of a slow developer? And the second part, what do you say to -- what's your advice to all of those other guys out there who think maybe they got a bit of game and were in the situation you were in when you were in Seattle, selling stereos?

RICH BEEM: I'm going to answer the second question first. This is the classic quote from Bill Lidstrom (ph) -- if you think you have game, to get on the PGA Tour, come play in a Friday game El Paso Country Club. If you don't get hammered, you make some money, then you probably have a pretty good chance. Other than that, don't show up.

And the one about my dad -- I'm sorry, I missed one about my dad, I'm sorry.

Q. Do you think the fact that he himself was a very good player -- and you told us he didn't go on the circuit himself because of lack of resources, and you yourself as a golfer were a bit of a slow developer; do you think it's sweeter for him now in this situation?

RICH BEEM: I think so. My dad never really -- I never did any of this for my dad, I never turned professional for my dad, I didn't do any of this for my dad. My dad was just always there. So I know that he is just prouder than punch of me right now, and I'm just prouder than punch of him.

Hopefully with this, we can attract a few more good players at New Mexico State (wher4e his dad is the golf coach). We've had a lackluster team the last few years. This is going to be really neat sharing this with my dad.

Q. Those of us who were out there walking with you heard the roars down the stretch ahead of you, we saw the leaderboard ahead of you, we knew exactly what was going on. How did you -- you said you blocked it out; you didn't know it was Tiger. Was there a song going through your head; sports scores running through your head? How did you do it?

RICH BEEM: I don't know. I talked to my caddie, Billy, I just told him, "I'm sucking air right now."

He goes, "Good, you should be. This is fun." He says, "We're going to be able to laugh about this a couple of years from now."

He's right. Honestly, I didn't know it was Tiger because I know that -- I knew that the crowd was very pro-Fred Funk, so they were really cheering on Freddie and I heard a lot of "Freddies."

I really wasn't paying attention to that. I was more worried about myself than anything else and I was just trying to block everything out, honestly. I didn't sing a song, I didn't think about anything.

However, there is a song every morning, we came out to the golf course, every day without fail, "Soak up the Sun" by -- who, Sheryl Crow? So if there should be a song I should be singing right now, it's that one.

Q. You mentioned the galleries before and you said you would come back in 2009 (for the PGA Championship). What impression are you going to take away from this Championship, is it the golf course, or is it the galleries or is it both?

RICH BEEM: It's everything involved. I mean, from day one, I mean, the crowds were unbelievably huge, on even Monday. I couldn't believe how many people were out here Monday and Tuesday, playing with John and Fuzzy and Robert and Pat; it was unbelievable how many autographs we signed. And Fuzzy sat there and signed every single autograph almost that people put in front of his face.

After a while, it got to the point where he just couldn't sign everything and there was just too many people out there. But the golf course all week was in such beautiful shape. I'm going to take away the whole experience about this week. And maybe at the end of the year I'll sit down and actually think about everything that I was going through. But just everything about the atmosphere out here, it's unbelievable.

JULIUS MASON: Rich Beem, the 2002 PGA Champion.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

Western New York PGA SectionGreater Rochester Visitors Association, Inc.

©2003 The PGA of America / Ryder Cup limited / Turner Sports Interactive. All rights reserved.
Turner Entertainment Digital Network PGA.COM is part of Bleacher Report - Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network.

Send all feedback / comments to webmaster.pga@turner.com. Sales inquiries contact sales.pga@turner.com.
PGA.com Privacy Policy / Terms of Use.