Q-School: Beem making a run at PGA West

Rich Beem hits a shot during the first round of the 93rd PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

Rich Beem hits a shot during the first round of the 93rd PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Don’t look now, but here comes Rich Beem.

After consecutive scores of 72 in the first and second rounds of the final stage of PGA Tour Q-School, Beem rebounded Friday with a 5-under-par 67 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West.

What’s a guy like Beem doing in Q-School, anyway? He’s a former major champion (2002 PGA Championship) and a three-time winner on the PGA Tour.

Inconsistent play, coupled with back surgery in 2010, threatened Beem’s career. In 2011, he played in 21 PGA Tour events and earned just $135,225. That was 207th on the money list, more than a half-million dollars shy of the $668,166 that was required for a spot in the all-exempt top 125.

Beem, 41, is nothing if not resilient. He loves golf so much that he volunteered to play Tuesday in the Chevron World Challenge pro-am, then drove 120 miles for the start of Q-School the next day.

The good news for Beem: He is armed with a new putter from Edel Golf of Liberty Hill, Texas. David Edel, the founder of Edel Golf, took Beem through a complete putter fitting just a week before the start of the second stage of Q-School.

What? Beem had to endure second stage as well as the final stage?

“You gotta do what you gotta do,” Beem said. “I’ll say this: For the first time in my life, I feel comfortable over every putt. I feel like I’m going to make every putt.

“David spent a lot of time with me. He lined up my eyes, got the right length, got the right weights. This putter is 35 inches. I’ve never had one that long, but I feel very good over the ball.”

Edel is known as an innovator in putters, and his line includes putters with variable weights and variable loft.

“I love it,” Beem said. “It’s nice to wake up every day and have the same feeling with the same putter. I never felt like I was very consistent. I felt like every day i was coming out here searching for something. Now I don’t feel like I’m searching for anything. I feel like I’m in the same space I was yesterday.”

Beem eagled the par-5 15th hole with a 5-foot putt. He added four birdies. His only bogey came at the par-3 12th.

“Better than yesterday, when I hit it in the water twice,” he said.

Coincidentally, the last time Beem had to survive Q-School, in 1998, was here at PGA West. He broke par in every round, finished 19 under and tied for eighth.

“I had never played in a PGA Tour event, never played in a Nationwide Tour event. I just got done working at El Paso (Texas) Country Club six weeks earlier.”

Looking back, what did he learn from that experience?

“It’s nice to be here and feel you have nothing to lose,” he said. “You have to come out here and treat it like it’s just another round of golf. You need to focus on having some fun and playing some golf. The more you try to control it, the worse off you’re going to be.”

That’s Rich Beem, who beat back the challenge of Tiger Woods in the 2002 PGA Championship and is ready to play some golf, have some fun, and get back where he belongs.

That would be the PGA Tour, the object of every golfer’s desire.

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