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Former champ Rich Beem, now a reporter, plays on weekend

In this photo taken July 28, 2016 Rich

In this photo taken July 28, 2016 Rich Beem watches his tee shot on the 16th hole during the first round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J. Beem, the 2002 PGA champion, is a TV analyst for Sky Sports and the PGA is the only event he played this year. Credit: AP / Mike Groll

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — Rich Beem knew he would be working this weekend at the PGA Championship. He just did not expect to be doing two jobs. His full-time gig is as a reporter for Sky Sports, which is essentially the ESPN of the United Kingdom and Ireland. He also got to tee it up here as a former champion, which had seemed to be a nice formality.

But despite having not played in competition since the PGA last year, and having participated in only four events the year before that, he made the cut—unlike Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and other notables.

“I kind of found something this week in my swing,” he said after having shot 2-over-par 72 Saturday to finish the third round 3 over. “Obviously I had no expectations, but I had a pretty good game plan on how I wanted to react.”

Beem, the 2002 winner, is realistic about his game, as he encouraged his students to be when he was a teaching pro. His famous line to strugglers was, “Take two weeks off. Then quit.” He laughed when recalling that Saturday and said he was here to have fun, while he had clubs in his hands.

“But now,” he said before thunderstorms halted play, “it’s time to go change shirts, change hats and follow the last group for 18 holes.”

Baltusrol has similar feel to Bethpage Black

If Baltusrol Golf Club looks familiar to Long Islanders, there is a reason, and you’re not alone in thinking that. It was designed by A.W. Tillinghast, the renowned architect whose works also include Bethpage Black. There are similarities, in the opinion of Padraig Harrington, who is playing here this week and who holds a share of the course record, a 64, at the Black (shot during The Barclays in 2012).

“Well, the size of it,” he said of Baltusrol. “The mature trees, the way the golf course plays within those tree lines. It’s set up nicely for golf. You’d enjoy playing golf here every day of the week.

LI vets take first place

A week ago, one champion was crowned by the PGA of America. The team representing Long Island won the Secretary’s Cup competition held at Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club in Bedminster, N.J. It was a nine-hole tournament involving military veterans who took part in the PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) golf program. It was designed to introduce golf to veterans with disabilities.

The winning foursome, which finished 8 under, was composed of John Sweeney, Ricky Selecchio, Ray Jones and Ron Middleton.


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