Rich Beem surprises even himself with 69 at Houston Open

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Rich Beem surprises even himself with 69 at Houston Open

Golf

Rich Beem surprises even himself with 69 at Houston Open

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On the way to this week’s Houston Open, former PGA Championship winner Rich Beem channeled LL Cool J and sang in his car “Don’t call it a comeback.”

Beem, 49, has enjoyed the better part of his 40s as a TV golf commentator for Sky Sport, and usually dusts his clubs off once a year to play as a past champion in the PGA. But he made a rare exception this week and made the most of it, shooting a 3-under 69 in the first round of the Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston.

“I wish I was this good back in the old times, are you kidding me?” Beem joked. ” I don’t think I played this good towards the end of my career, there’s no doubt.”

Golf Channel’s Mark Rolfing called it “one of the rounds of the day.” Indeed, it was. Beem made the cut at last year’s PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, shooting a pair of 69s to go along with a 75 and 82, and is making his first start at a regular PGA Tour event since the 2014 Barracuda Championship on a sponsor’s exemption. He hasn’t played more than three events in a season since making 10 starts in 2012 and a full schedule of 21 in 2011.

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“I never expected to be here, to be fair,” Beem said. “I live in Austin, two and a half hours away, and I’ve always loved the Houston Open, I’ve always loved this golf course, and I know the tournament director, Colby Callaway, very well. So I wrote him a letter probably in July and just kind of kept in touch.  He literally surprised me a week ago Tuesday and said ‘You’re in.’ “

Beem said his game has benefited from walking the fairways as a TV foot soldier and watching the best players in the world up close. He’s learned how they manage their games.

“That’s helped me more than anything because I can honestly say I’ve still got about four or five different swing thoughts and I’m trying to figure out which one’s the best one out there,” Beem said. “It’s just about managing the game, hitting the shots that I know I can hit, finding some greens and roll a putt or two in, which is what I did today.  You shoot 69, which to me is simply incredible. I never expected this, not by a long shot.”

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