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January 26, 2007

Rich Beem


JOE CHEMCYZ: 4-under par 68 today on the South Course, can you just talk a little about the South Course and the difference between the two, how you played and we'll open it up?
RICH BEEM: You guys don't know the difference between the North and the South? If you guys haven't figured that one out, something is seriously wrong.
Pretty sure they are not going to have any U.S. Opens on that North Course any time soon. It's just night and day, it's just long, brutal, but I like it. I think it's a fair test. I think you've got to golf your ball, you've got to put yourself in position. The rough is down this year but you still have to put it in the fairway I think to have a realistic chance of making birdies; other than that you're hanging on. I did that for most of the day until the last few holes where I didn't hit it as good as the first 12 or 13 holes. Hung on for dear life and was just fortunate to make birdie at the end.
Don't you ever get tired of talking about golf? It's the most boring thing ever, isn't it?

Q. Who do you like in the Super Bowl?
RICH BEEM: Who do I like in the Super Bowl? I like the referees. I don't know. I'm thinking -- I hate to say -- I'm thinking the Bears, I think the Bears by one. I think it's going to go down as one of the best Super Bowls ever for certain.
Seriously, you get the same questions: What do you think about this, what do you think about that. Fire away with some golf questions, let's go.

Q. (How were the conditions)?
RICH BEEM: It was pretty consistent for most of the day, didn't feel it much for the first few holes. It tried to switch around towards the end, coming mostly out of the South, and once we kind of started heading for home kind of 13, 14, started coming a little more out of the west as well, but I thought it was pretty consistent all day, just tough.

Q. How much better is that 68 today than yesterday's 67?
RICH BEEM: I don't know if it's that much better. Yes, it is; and no, it's not. I think that it's -- you know, I probably putted a little bit better today than I did yesterday, but you've still got to stay patient.
I know on the North Course you can really get it going and fire away, but just can't fire at every single pin you see. You can fire at most of them, but certainly on the South Course you have to take your time a little bit more.
Today, it's kind of the same type of round where I made a lot of birdies -- and stalled out a little bit and just hung on. I thought they were very similar rounds even though I was hitting a lot -- instead of hitting four and 3-irons into the greens, those 7- and 8-irons yesterday.

Q. (On club selection, considering course length and conditions).
RICH BEEM: I think the golf course for the most part especially on the front side with the wind the way it was, it wasn't playing especially long like 4, I hit driver wedge. I killed a drive but I hit wedge in. Once you get to 11, 11, I hit 4-iron in; 12, I hit 5-iron in; and then 15, I hit a pretty good 6-iron in.
17, I tried to hit a 4-iron just because I thought if I hit 3-iron I might roast it over the green. You're just slugging at them. 17 I hit like a 9-iron -- on 16 I hit a 4-iron, yeah. So you're hitting a lot more long irons in, especially coming down the stretch.
I hit one 6-iron on No. 13 and I think that's the longest second shot iron I hit in besides the par 5s we're hitting 3-iron I think on every par 5. Other than that, though, no, I didn't. I hit 5-iron on 12, too, I guess, 5-iron and 6-iron. Other than that I didn't hit -- it's just a completely different ballgame.

Q. What did you do last week in Palm Springs?
RICH BEEM: I missed cut. Very easily, too.

Q. Do you feel like it's taking you a few weeks to slide into the year?
RICH BEEM: Yeah, I went snow boarding. I took three weeks off where I didn't touch a club and I honestly haven't done that -- I can't remember when, the last time I did that. I got out to Hawaii early and started working out a little bit and really didn't -- I had no idea what I was doing. I was out there just trying to play golf and get it in the hole as quick as I could. It's difficult when you go over to Hawaii and it's blowing 40 miles an hour every day. It seems like so you're trying to work on stuff, but you're also trying to stand up right and keep your balance.
So just totally different experience, and then last week, I mean, obviously it was windy there, too, so yeah it's just taken me a while to get in and get settled down. I've played well in Hawaii for the first three days and the last day I just drove it poorly and last week I thought I hit the ball pretty good. I just never got on one of those rolls where you need to to have any consistency in that golf tournament.

Q. How do you feel about your game coming into this year after the last few years?
RICH BEEM: I feel good. I mean, you know, it's funny I felt like I had a really good year last year, too. I felt like I hit the ball better than I had in years past. I think I putted better, I think I chipped it better, the whole nine yards but the stats don't say that. Money List didn't show that, the stats didn't show that.
It's really kind of bizarre because I had a lot of confidence at the end of last year and going into this year, I changed clubs at the end of last year, put some new Callaway irons in the bag and they are fantastic. I feel completely comfortable with everything I'm doing out there. Equipment-wise Callaway has me completely dialed in. Physically, mentally, I'm never good, but I'm better than I was I guess.
So I really had a lot of confidence end of last year. It didn't show up in any of the stats, but when I took the three weeks off, I was really looking forward to going back out, which I had not done for a long time, really excited to play golf; it's a job.

Q. Do you have confidence that you can get to the 2002 level?
RICH BEEM: I hope so, I believe that I can, whether or not I do or not, I'm not going to worry about. I'm going to give it my best shot, but if I don't happen to win another tournament for the rest of my life, which I don't think will happen, but even if I don't win, it's not going to hurt me. It's not going to kill me.

Q. Is there a short answer as to why you haven't won since the 2002?
RICH BEEM: Short answer? I haven't shot the lowest score for four straight days.

Q. Is there a medium answer?
RICH BEEM: There's so many things that happen after 2002. You know, everything kind of changed. Whether or not I wanted to believe it or not, just everything changed. I felt like the public perception changed, Rich Beem won a major, for some reason just didn't feel right in my skin when people said that about me. And that was strange, you think a guy is going to come off winning a major feeling like king of the world, and it just bugged me a little bit because it just didn't feel right.
So after that, kind of getting over that shot and I had a lot of changes with the kids, moving to Austin, things like that; golf just wasn't that important. I always wanted to play well, but I was just going through the motions.
I guess the medium answer is that golf took a back seat to everything else, and now I don't want it to take a back seat to everything else. I really want it to be what I love to do and enjoy coming to the golf course and enjoy working on it and enjoy getting better because you know, in 2002, I was already as good as I thought that I was going to get. You know, where are you going to go from there? There's nowhere to go but down. Hopefully we're going to come full circle and come back and be even better than we were.

Q. This is one of the all-time cliché questions of all, but being the honest answer giver you are, do you feel now that you're Rich Beem major champion, people expected you to play well and try too hard?
RICH BEEM: I think that happens to everybody. You go out and win a Pulitzer prize-winning novel, say you write something, you get all of these accolades and all of the sudden you're expected to write great stories every time and it's just not always going to happen. And it's certainly not always going to happen with me.
I think that there's -- I think part of the problem, too, is that I thought that everybody expected me -- you know, even if they did or they didn't. You know, everybody was completely content with, hey, you won the PGA, fantastic, way to go, good job. You know, but I was always like, well, yeah, but what did I do today. I didn't win anything today. You know, gosh, I'd better do something about that. And pretty soon, you know, it just consumes you and you're out there setting yourself for failure.
Phil Mickelson said it perfect: "I fail 90 percent of the time." Hell, if he's failing 90, I fail 99.9 percent of the time. It's just one of those things you get beat up enough whereas you don't -- I guess it just got to the point where golf just really wasn't something I look forward to every day and now I do.

Q. (When did that start to change)?
RICH BEEM: I think it was kind of last year more than anything else. Last year I really started feeling good about my game, myself, myself on the golf course, this and that and I got excited about being out there and like I said, just because the stats don't show it, I was really excited to play golf and when I played well it was a lot of fun. And when I didn't play well, I was trying to figure out why I didn't play that well that day and work on it and try and come back the next day and play even better.

Q. Did you find yourself breaking routine after 2002, you're trying new things or having to do new things because of your role as Major Champion? Is that part of it as well; you couldn't do what you had been doing the previous part of your life before that?
RICH BEEM: I probably took -- yeah, my routine probably changed a little bit. But I did try and change my golf swing a little bit to maybe try to become more efficient, more better, because I had time. I had five years to try and figure out -- try and make it that much better.
You know, the funny thing is, the more I tinker with my golf swing, the less I tinkered with my equipment. I didn't change as many things, except for the putter of course which is all the evil devil.
Yeah, I guess you know routines do change a little bit, but it's kind of nice though because instead of having to get to the golf tournament on upon day for a Tuesday practice round, now I can come in Tuesday mid-morning, early afternoon, go out, play the Pro-Am and then play the tournament.
So maybe I wasn't doing enough to prepare for the tournament, and I was just kind of getting by with what I knew about the golf course and taking time to do other things. Which like I said, is totally normal. Why wouldn't you, if you have more time to spend at home with this traveling circus, wouldn't you do it? Yeah, eight days a week.

Q. Sorry, ASAP. Since your exemption from 2002 is up this year, is that any type of incentive?
RICH BEEM: I was asked this question last year by my instructor. He kind of rides me hard a little bit, and I go, no, I really don't. If I sit there and put that pressure on myself and say "I've got to, I've got to," it's going to just consume you and you're going to self-destruct.
I want to go out and play well, I want to compete, I want to get in the winner's circle again and I want to do these things. I don't feel like I have to do any of it though because what's the worst that is going to happen? Say I lose my TOUR card. Okay, two decisions: Go back to Q-School or start writing letters.
I'm pretty sure I can write enough letters with the contacts that I've made out here. So I'll still have a full schedule I think for as long as I kind of want to, but I don't think it's going to have to come to that. I think that I'm going to play my way into the TOUR events. I think I'm going to finish Top-25, I think I'm going to win again and I don't really worry about that.
You know, it's nice having that -- it's still a safety net because I have won three times and one of them happened to have been a major. But at the same time, I think I've done my part to help out tournaments, playing in enough Pro-Ams, this and that, that they might be gracious enough to give me a respond or's exemption, if I needed it but hopefully it won't come to that.

Q. (What do you think about the FedExCup Playoffs)?
RICH BEEM: Playoffs. That might be the worst -- the poorest choice of words I've ever heard. No, I actually had a comment -- and I'm really not bashing the FedExCup at all. I think it's a fantastic concept.
But you know, in the fans' eyes, if Tiger goes out or Vijay or Phil, if somebody goes out and wins all four majors, you know -- yeah, he's got $10 million for the FedExCup, but that's a Catch 22. If they go out and win all four majors and points get reset, and they either don't play a lot or win the FedExCup, what are the fans reaction going to be? Are they going to think it's a joke? Hopefully it won't come to that.
But I had a conversation with Sid Wilson. He goes: "What if the Yankees win 140 games and they lose in the first round of the playoffs to the Mariners?"
I said, "Well, Derek Jeter better not go outside for a good four months or go down to Cuba or something for a while and hang out because he'll get annihilated." I don't think it's the same and he's comparing apples and oranges.

Q. The World Series is the only major.
RICH BEEM: The World Series is the only major, exactly. So it kind of a Catch 22. Hopefully it won't come to that, and it does everything that everybody wants.
And you know, like I said, I support it. I just think that there's -- I think that we're going to have I think over the next couple two, three, four years, we'll have to re-evaluate how the points system is broke down, and whether we want to put in what they call quote, unquote the Playoffs. I think that's where it gets a little funny, but I'm not in any of that. But I am a PAC member now. I'm excited about that.

Q. Just to speculate for a second, and however the year shapes out doesn't matter, when you go to cast your vote for Player of the Year, how much emphasis are you going to put on -- how do you think in your mind you're going to break it down to, say, money title, majors, total victories, FedExCup, assuming it was one by --
RICH BEEM: You would probably have to look at majors first and foremost, majors and TOUR victories.
You know, FedExCup I think rewards the guy who plays not only a lot, but a lot -- well, I think Vijay Singh Vijay was my first pick of the guys probably to beat during the FedExCup, because he gets points every cut that he makes, every tournament he plays in, things like that.
Tiger doesn't play that much. His career is going to be totally based on how many majors he wins, that's brutally honest and so I think winning the FedExCup is kind of -- is second in line but he's certainly, you know, he wants to surpass Jack Nicklaus's record, and that's his goal.
As far as ranking them, for Player of the Year, you have to look at majors first, and number of wins second and then Money List and FedExCup points probably on the same parallel. I don't think anything is going to change.
But that's what the TOUR said, though. They have not said it's going to be the Player of the Year. It's not going to determine Player of the Year. It's not going to determine Money List, all this. It's going to determine who played the most consistent out of all the tournaments and who won the FedExCup. It has nothing to do with any of the other things.
I'm not bashing it. There's going to have to be some changes to it in the future, but we have a great start on it. It just not quite refined yet, and I think they have a great idea and there are just things that they have to change.

Q. Do you think kids will be wanting to win the FedExCup as much as the Masters or U.S. Open?
RICH BEEM: To be honest with you, this is an honest answer, I sure hope not. Because I think that that would be demeaning towards the majors and what everybody grows up -- I mean when I'm out practicing, when you see kids out there practicing, you know, seven-, eight-, nine-year-olds, even 15-, 16-year-olds, "I've got this putt to win the U.S. Open. I've got this putt to win The Masters."
I sure hope there never comes a day where a kid says, "I have this putt to win the FedExCup." I hate to say that because it sound like I'm bashing on the TOUR and the FedExCup and I'm not. I really hope that the kids are dreaming about winning a major championship and winning a title instead of winning something else. I just sure hope not.
JOE CHEMCYZ: Thanks, Rich.

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