Beem gets second chance in FedEx playoffs

Rich Beem, Barclays
Hunter Martin/Getty Images
Rich Beem finished third last week to qualify for the playoffs.

(AP) — Rich Beem, as much as anyone, knows how quickly fortunes can change in golf.

This is the guy who went from selling car stereos in Seattle for $7 an hour to rolling in a 35-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole at Hazeltine to beat Tiger Woods in the PGA Championship. That was over the course of seven years.

His most recent reversal happened over two days.

Beem had yet to crack the top 20 all season. He was at No. 166 in the FedEx Cup standings. Equally dire was his standing in the Wyndham Championship, where he was even par on the 15th hole of the second round, three shots below the cut line. Four more holes and he was out of golf for the next four weeks.

"And now we're talking about a chance to win the FedEx Cup," he said. "It's amazing how it can turn around."

Beem made eagle on the 15th, birdie on the 16th, finished with two pars and made the cut on the number. He followed that with rounds of 63-63 — both times tying his career-low round — to finish alone in third and breathe some life into his season.

"Crazy game," he said.

Such is the nature of the PGA Tour Playoffs, which starts Thursday at The Barclays.

Beem made the biggest move in the final regular-season tournament, going from No. 166 to No. 114 in the FedEx Cup standings. He was 21,562 points behind Woods last week, and now starts the playoffs only 6,730 out of the lead.

Better yet, Woods isn't even playing.

Two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen also made a late push, with birdies on four of his last seven holes and getting up-and-down for par from 60 feet away in a bunker on the 18th to grab the 144th spot by a mere 20 points. Justin Bolli, Martin Laird and J.J. Henry also qualified.

Beem, however, is the poster boy for the tour's version of a postseason.

He was the example of how the playoffs offered so little hope for so many last year. Beem was No. 134 when the playoffs began, and his tie for seventh at The Barclays got him thinking Cinderella until he checked the standings and realized that midnight came awfully early for those who started so far down the list.

Beem was one of only two players who climbed into the top 120 to reach the second round at the Deutsche Bank Championship, where he had to finish no worse than second to keep going.

Of those 120, only two cracked the top 70 to reach the BMW Championship for the third event. And of those 70, only three advanced to the 30-man field at the Tour Championship. Only four players had a realistic chance of winning the $10 million prize.

With some major changes, the playoffs this year could be wide open — and that doesn't even account for Woods' absence.

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