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Chip Beck is making his debut in the Senior PGA Championship this week at the Ocean Course. (Photo: AP)
Chip Beck is making his debut in the Senior PGA Championship this week at the Ocean Course. (Photo: AP)

So many good memories of '91 Ryder Cup have me excited

Chip Beck is back at the Ocean Course for the first time since he competed in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Much has changed here, but what hasn't are the memories he carries of that historic event staged along the shore of the Atlantic.

By Chip Beck, Special to PGA.com

Editor's note: Chip Beck, a member of the victorious United States 1991 Ryder Cup team, is back at the Ocean Course for his debut in the 68th Senior PGA Championship. Check back each day for another edition of his exclusive daily blog.

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort is just outstanding in my opinion. They have made some changes but the course is set up, which I really like, to the way we play. It's not set up for the 25-year-old kids who launch the ball 300 yards. I also love the fact that there's plenty of room to play on, but it's still going to be hard and fast around the greens for chipping and putting.

It really is a major venue and course. As far as the galleries are concerned, I was talking to Dr. Dirt (Brad Bryant) and he was saying that it's a little difficult to walk because of the beach sand on the course. But you know what? The fans just become a part of it. They get their shoes all dirty, just like we do. Walking around isn't easy since you're on the sand, but that's the beauty of golf. You get the feel of nature right up in your shoes even, between your toes. And I kind of like that.

You know, I've been here before as a member of the 1991 Ryder Cup squad and I have so many good memories from that experience. One of the big memories is Hale Irwin -- he really stands out because he was 48 at the time but he was just so tough. Everybody on both teams could probably out-drive him at the time. But he knew he had to get up on Bernhard Langer before they made the turn towards the clubhouse. At that time, the wind was so strong, I was hitting my 3-wood 210 yards. But Hale, he was really mentally tough. Dave Stockton asked him to bring the ship home and he really had no problems, just said, "I would consider it an honor."

If I were like that, I don't know if I would have had the guts to bring that ship home, so to speak, because I knew how tough it was to finish there. If you faded it one inch, you went 30 yards right. And he'd faded the ball his whole life. On the last hole, he hit 3-wood and Langer's hitting 4-iron and it's a huge difference but he's a tough competitor. Still is, actually. I saw him walking out last night and I had my 22-year-old son with me and he said, "Man, I used to work out like that when I was in college." Yet Irwin's going to be 62 in a couple of weeks. I thought I worked out pretty hard, but I'm not even close to what he's doing.

As for a mini-Ryder Cup reunion, we're really disappointed that Seve Ballesteros withdrew but if you aren't mentally and physically ready to compete, it's hard to play. That's the nature of the game. He beat me on two matches down here in 1991. Paul Azinger and I lost to he and Jose Maria Olazabal. He had that spark in his eye and that drive in his heart. He was really on all cylinders at that time. He was a pretty impressive player, so I'm going to miss him not being here.

You know what, though, I'm so excited to be here because I have so many good memories. I'm staying in the villas where we stayed as a team. I went into Charleston and had a really nice dinner at High Cotton. The maitre d' was so nice to me I left him three passes for Wednesday's practice round that's sold out. Just the people are so nice and they remember that '91 Ryder Cup. It's been a great experience -- even the marshals stop and say Chip, we're really glad you're back.

I haven't been here since the Ryder Cup. I played 17 on Tuesday and I'm thinking, wow, I'm hitting 3-iron here today when I was hitting 3-wood against Ian Woosnam in 1991. I hit a 3-wood 209 yards and closed the match up 2 and 1 at No. 17. The wind is entirely different and the course is not as tough as it was then because of the weather. We are going to have spectacular weather this week. It's really a great golf course and I love the fact that it's out here at the end of the island. It's like going on a great expedition to find the Holy Grail. It's just wonderful, like Bandon Dunes or some of these courses that are out there in the wilderness. Here, we're right next to the ocean so it's a great way to play golf, just a wonderful environment to be in. I remember my family sitting on the porch, just enjoying the view and the ocean. If you aren't down here, you should be. Look out for this tournament, it's going to be a fun one to be involved with. It's like a little piece of heaven out here.

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