PGA notebook: Beem could lose playing privileges next year

Tim Geary

Rich Beem owns a major championship (the 2002 PGA) and two other PGA Tour wins, but coming into the Fed Ex Cup series he was faced with the very real possibility that he could lose his playing privileges next year.

When Beem entered last week's Barclays event, the first of the four Fed Ex Cup events, he was 130th on the Tour's money list. He finished in a tie for 7th (with Phil Mickelson) which vaulted him to 113th and also qualified Beem for the second leg (or quarterfinals) of the four-tournament series that culminates at the Tour Championship in Atlanta in two weeks.

But for Beem to make it to the semi-finals, next week in Chicago, he has to finish no worse than second in this tournament. That would put him in the top 70 in terms of Fed Ex Cup points.

"You know what would be a shame is I finish 7th and then 3rd and I can't go next week?" chuckled Beem after he had shot a 5-under 66, giving him a two-day total of 133 (one shot out of the lead). "I might go anyways, he joked."

Not many players have performed better than Beem over the first two days on the course and nobody came close to the performance he put on in the media center.

Known as one of the Tour's more fun-loving individuals, Beem related how he spent his day off last week, playing a relaxed round with a couple of Rhode Island state troopers at Triggs Memorial, a municipal course in the heart of  Providence.

"It was awesome, an old Donald Ross design," he said. "I played about 15 holes and then I had had enough. I was extremely tired. I loved it. I grew up on muni golf courses. That's all I played. It's been awhile since I've played them."

Beem reported that he left his putter at Triggs, has a good idea of who might have it but doesn't expect to ever see it again. "I got two brand new ones, so I just left in there," he said.

After struggling to a combined three-over par in Friday's opening round, the spotlight trio of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh played Saturday the way everyone had hoped they would, finishing at a combined 19-under par for the day.

Woods and Mickelson both recorded the day's best round, 7-under 64 while Singh shot a 5-under 66.

Birdies were plentiful (18) and Woods and Mickelson each contributed an eagle. Woods' came on the short par 4 fourth hole when he drove the green and drained his 33-foot putt. Mickelson also drove the green but just missed his putt for eagle. His came on the par-5 18th hole, his ninth as the trio started their round on the back side.

"Today was a lot of fun," said Mickelson. "We certainly had a good time. I think this is what we were hoping for and kind of expecting yesterday."

"Today we all played well, which was nice" agreed Woods. "We all made some putts and got it going. You know, when you get in those groups when you all feed off one another, when you're all going low, all making birdies, those are the fun pairings to get involved in."

A total of 17 eagles have been recorded over the first two days of the tournament with reigning U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera leading with three. Phil Mickelson and Brett Wetterich each have a pair while Jonathan Byrd, Ken Duke, Sergio Garcia, Ryan Moore, Tom Pernice, Kevin Stadler, Bo Van Pelt, Charlie Wi, Mark Wilson and Tiger Woods all have one. 

There has not been a hole-in-one recorded.

Twice Mike Weir eschewed his wedge around the green and elected to chip from the high rough with his rescue utility club. Both times he saved par and nearly holed one.

"I've been practicing chipping with the rescue club quite a bit and today I felt more comfortable using it rather than the wedge."

After his first two rounds Weir stands at 88th in the Fed Ex Cup points. He needs to finish at 70 or better to qualify for next week's event.

"I'm not worried too much about that," he said. "I just want to play well. It's been awhile since I've hoisted a trophy. I just want to get back in the winner's circle."

The first two rounds of the tournament have been televised on the Golf Channel. Coverage today and tomorrow will be on NBC.

Notables missing the cut included Anthony Kim, reigning British Open champion Padraig Harrington, two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, Davis Love III, Chris DiMarco, Justin Rose and Stewart Cink.