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July 14, 2003

Rich Beem


STEWART McDOUGALL: Ladies and gentlemen, we have Rich Beem, the 2002 U.S. PGA Championship. You've come off a good bit of form with second place in the Western Open. How is that form going to translate into Sandwich here?

RICH BEEM: Hopefully it's going to carry over. I've hit the ball really well for the last three or four months now. And my short game, I've been really good around the green. And finally in Chicago everything came together, and I got a nice little roll there. With the exception of nine holes on Friday, I played actually very well. So I came over to Scotland a little early, and it took me about two days to finally get adjusted again, but I was just out practicing, and everything feels fantastic, and I look forward to playing tomorrow morning.

Q. Rich, do you feel you've got the sort of game that can win in conditions like this, do you feel you've got the --

RICH BEEM: I haven't seen the golf course yet, but certainly growing up in west Texas and El Paso area, from about February through mid-June it blows about 40 miles an hour every single day. So playing in the wind usually doesn't bother me. With the different conditions, with the hard fairways and firmness around the greens, it's different. But I'll spend time tomorrow and Wednesday doing a lot of chipping and putting around the greens and trying to get a feel for what kind of shots you need out here.

As far as playing in the windy conditions, where it's hot and windy, this is just like El Paso, so I kind of feel a little bit at home, except for everybody has a little more accents around here instead of y'all, it's "good day, mate" -- I guess not "mate," that's Australia. But it's nice, I enjoy being here, wonderful place.

Q. Rich, after you won the US PGA you said it would take a while to sink in that you had become a major champion. What does it mean and how does it feel to come to an event like this as one of the elite?

RICH BEEM: It's spectacular. I wish I could describe it better than that. It's nice knowing you've come to a major championship, and hopefully I'll get in contention, and I'll know what it feels like. It's still nerve wracking, nonetheless, but it feels wonderful coming to a championship like this, not just this year, but I've got five years to go after this, at least. I enjoy playing in major championships. I enjoy playing in front of the entire world in events like this. So I love it. I think it's wonderful to play here.

Q. Put in your own words how difficult it is to win a major championship, any of the four.

RICH BEEM: Oh, it's unbelievable. It's not just -- you try and treat it like a normal tournament, but in the back of your mind you know, because of everything that comes along with it, but you're playing in front of so many people and the stage is so big, and after every round you're playing well, you come to the press tent, you know that this is something a little bit different than other events. So -- because the media reminds you that, hey, this is a major, by the way. To win any major it's unbelievable feeling, it's so euphoric. It's hard to describe.

Q. In that regard, when you look at what Tiger has done, and he's gone four straight majors without winning, and a lot of people are saying he's in a slump, how unfair is that to label that a slump?

RICH BEEM: It's very unfair. It's a lot like the same -- almost the same level as Mickelson, he's won all these tournaments worldwide and is such a great player, and for him to be considered the best player not to win a major, and every time he gets to a major more and more pressure is put on him. But Tiger, obviously four in a row for him. He got on such a roll there in the '90s and early 2000 that everybody expected him to win. And unfortunately, we in the locker room know that he's an awesome player. He's a great player. He's proved it time and time again. But he's not going to be able to win everything. There's certainly players capable of catching him, especially a major championship. I was by far probably the unlikeliest one to hold him off.

But there are such great players on Tour, on our Tour and the European Tour, just as well. For him to say -- it's been four majors since he won, what's wrong, I think that's an unfair statement on his part. I think he's going to come out and thump us again in a major championship, before too long again, but we're going to give him hell.

Q. Following up on that, what did your win do, in terms of -- you held him off over the back nine?

RICH BEEM: Yeah, it was awesome. You're actually out there playing, and you're just playing the golf course, you're playing the tournament. And for me I was just -- that's all I was trying to think about. I wasn't really paying attention to what he was doing, I was paying more attention to what I was doing. I knew I was playing quite well and I knew if I kept up my play pretty soon somebody would run out of holes. If I didn't falter, then nobody could catch me. After it was all said and done, I think in a way I might have helped other players or even other events, said, hey, listen, if this guy can do it, holy cow, anybody can do it. That may not be the case, but certainly it gave a lot more guys insight that said, listen, you don't have to be a top-5 in the world to contend in a major. Anybody can do it. And I'm proof of that. So I think I probably in some ways inspired some guys a little bit. And I surprised myself quite a bit.

Q. When you played the back nine, you didn't change your game at all, you didn't get defensive?

RICH BEEM: No, I didn't.

Q. If you're in contention on Sunday, and you're two shots ahead, will you stick to that game plan or get more defensive?

RICH BEEM: No, I've never been a very good defensive player. My driver is the best club in my bag. I missed one fairway on Sunday afternoon at Hazeltine, and that was with a 7-wood. I enjoy attacking the golf course more than anything else, and that's my style. I love the way Phil Mickelson plays golf, same thing with Seve Ballesteros, you just go after the golf course, and don't worry about the other players. I enjoy that. That's the way I've always played golf. If I had to play defensively, I guarantee I'd screw it up somehow. I'm going to stay on the offense, and hopefully if turns out for the best.

Q. I may be off on the dates, but it was something like 20 years since a British Open winner has defended his championship. Do you have any thoughts on that, why it's been so long?

RICH BEEM: That's a pretty interesting stat, probably because the golf course and probably the conditions, it changes so drastically from year to year out here, even during the tournament. Look at last year when Ernie won. On Thursday and Friday, as I remember, it was pretty good weather. And Saturday, if you had an early morning tee time you were fine, but if you had noon or one, you had no chance. I think just the venues. Obviously it's -- to repeat any golf tournament is hard, but obviously a major championship is that much more fierce. And I think this would be the hardest to do because the venue change.

Augusta, we play the golf course every year. We get comfortable with that. U.S. Open, we stay mostly on the same rotations, and they're more Americanized. But here, balls bounce any which way, into the pot bunkers, and you think, why did the designer put a bunker there, and now you know, because you're going to put it there.

Q. Do you think that Ernie's coming in, he's playing well again, do you see him having a good chance?

RICH BEEM: I think he's got a great chance. But as I said earlier, you can have great form coming into the British Open and you can get a couple of really bad bounces, it makes some big numbers out here. Or you can get wonderful bounces and turn 7's into 3's. So obviously Ernie has been playing well for a long time now. But he's got a lot of confidence going into it that week, so I think he's going to do well.

Q. You were saying early on you like England and like the tournaments and the politeness of people. Have you had a chance to take in more of the sort of cultural side of it? We understand you're not a shy person, that you do like to --

RICH BEEM: I'm not a shy person. I get out there. I like to meet people. I'm a people person. So, last week we came in early. We landed into Edinburgh Friday morning and went to St. Andrews and actually played twice at St. Andrews, and had a wonderful time with the caddies there, and went out with the locals. It was fantastic. It was just a neat experience. And I love coming over here. I think it's very relaxing. The time zone kind of hurts a little bit. But it's such a neat area. It's wonderful. I love the old buildings, the old stone. I love how -- I wish the roads were a little wider, because I get a little nervous. But it's beautiful. I love this part of the world and I enjoy coming back here.

Q. Do you find the beer warm?

RICH BEEM: The beer is a little warm, but it's not bad, it's not bad. After a couple -- the first one, it goes down a little stiff, but after that -- because it's darker beer than the Coors Light, which is 90 percent water. But over here it's a little stiffer, but it's quite good.

STEWART McDOUGALL: Thank very much.

End of FastScripts....

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