Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The 2009 PGA Championship: Glory's Last Snooze?

The last time the PGA Championship was played at Hazeltine in 2002, Rich Beem stared down Tiger Woods and Justin Leonard, and shocked the world.

While the event was as memorable as anything I've ever seen in my living room, Beem's dance on 18 was so horrible that the golf gods haven't allowed him to win since.

The next year, Shaun Micheel gave glory his last shot (as good a last shot as any I can remember) for his only tour title.

There have been 5 PGA Championships since. The winners: Singh, Mickelson, Woods, Woods, Harrington. The rich get richer.

Well, the spotlight will be back on Beem for a couple of days as his playing partners are Tiger (going for major #15) and Harrington (defending his title). They tee off Thursday at 8:45 AM.

Beem's breakthough at Hazeltine was his second straight win. He took the now-defunct "International" just two weeks earlier. So he was hot. But now he's been cold for 7 years, making the cut in just 8 of the 25 Majors he's played since.

Beem's only other win in his career was as a rookie in 1999, a season documented in the book Bud, Sweat, and Tees: A Walk on the Wild Side of the PGA Tour by Alan Shipnuck.

It chronicles the lurid tales of Beem and his somewhat legendary caddy Steve Duplantis through that 1999 season, including the improbable win at the Kemper.

Duplantis, who lived recklessly, was killed in January 2008, when struck by a car.

Anyway, I'm still not going with Tiger. I have a hard time pulling for the prohibitive favorite (not counting the Yankees or Obama). I saw in one publication with Woods at 6-5, followed not-so-closely by Mickelson and Harrington at 20-1 each.

I got Kenny Perry. Good enough for 5 wins in the last 2 seasons, including one after he gagged away the Masters. But chances are it will be a big name with no drama. Just in case, I'm leaving Saturday and Sunday open for potential live-blogs.

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