Finally, Tiger is tamed
Beem turns tables on golf's superstar
By Gary D'Amato
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
CHASKA, Minn. -- Now, Tiger Woods knows how it feels.
Usually, it is the steely nerved Woods who is making birdies and eagles, building his lead in a major championship, turning up the pressure until his pursuers give up the chase or simply fall apart.
Usually, it is Woods raising the trophy at the end of the day.
On Sunday, in the final round of the 84th PGA Championship, the roles were reversed. Woods found himself trying to catch unheralded Rich Beem. And he found himself making critical mistakes down the stretch.
This wasn't supposed to be happening to Woods, the winner of eight majors, including seven of the last 12 and two of the first three this year.
He shot a 5-under-par 67, tied for low round of the day. It was a wonderful round, but it wasn't enough. Beem shot a 68 and won the PGA by one stroke with a 278 total.
It was the first time in his career that Woods finished second in a major.
"Well, it is frustrating," he said. "Any time you finish second in any tournament, it's frustrating, it's disappointing. In a major, it's the same. It feels the same way."
Beem's eagle on the par-5 11th was the turning point. Woods will never admit that he was startled when he glanced at the leader board and saw that he trailed Beem by three strokes, not one. He will never admit to even a moment of weakness mentally or emotionally.
But he did appear to lose his focus.
After noticing the leader board behind the 13th green, he three-putted from 15 feet for a bogey. On the next hole, he hit a poor tee shot, knocked his second shot through the green, chipped weakly and made another bogey.
Woods took issue with comments by CBS announcers that he appeared to be rattled and that his body language changed.
"I just made a mistake on 13," Woods said. "I didn't trust myself on the read. The putt fooled me and I knocked it by the hole. The second putt was just a bad putt. The next hole, I just hit a bad 4-iron off the tee. I hit a good 9-iron just to get it up around the green. Then I hit a bad pitch."
To his credit, Woods fought back. Trailing by five shots, he birdied the last four holes at Hazeltine National Golf Club to put some pressure on Beem, who withstood the assault.
"Right now, I'm a little frustrated, the fact that I made those couple mistakes," Woods said in his post-round interview. "But I'm also pretty jacked at the way I played coming in. That's something I'm very proud of, that I could have easily just bagged it and made pars coming in. Who really cares?
"But that's not the way I play. I told Stevie (Williams, his caddie), 'If we birdie in, we'll win the tournament. Let's just suck it up and get it done.' That is exactly what I did. I didn't miss a shot coming in."
For the championship, Woods hit 39 of 56 fairways and 51 of 72 greens in regulation. He needed 114 putts; Beem had 107.
Woods won $594,000 and increased his PGA Tour-leading total to $5,281,025. He also earned enough points to secure his fourth consecutive player-of-the-year award.