The last couple of weeks on the PGA Tour pretty much summed up a lot of things that are going right at the moment. The finish at The International squashed the rumor that in order for a tournament to be interesting, Tiger has to be in the field and the Buick Open dealt nicely with any suggestion that when the Great One is playing badly, someone else has a chance. Apparently, he has to be playing very, very, badly for that to be the case.
But how about that finish at Castle Pines? If granddad fell asleep in the armchair during the last hour of that one, you can go ahead and unplug him as far as I’m concerned. We’ve become kind of used to seeing suck-it-up and get-stoically-on-with-it behavior when less experienced leaders are caught from behind, but with Rich Beem, we got treated to how a real person feels when they have a PGA Tour event sewn up, and then not, and then sewn up again, and then not, and then…well, you saw him, he looked like someone was pushing and pulling a Christmas tree in and out of his shorts. What a freaking nightmare, and what great television! I remember Rich’s last win, back at the ’99 Kemper, as I was on the ground with him during the last round there, too. In fact I had been with him the day before during the third round, when, on the 12th green as he settled over a birdie putt, I suffered an embarrassing moment.
The day started off normally enough. I ate lunch, and was getting wired up in the Broadcast Sports Technology RF truck, when I was struck by an unusually painful intestinal gurgle. No matter, I strapped on the waist pack known as “Talent Pack One,” slid a CBS ballcap over the brain container, and finished off the ensemble by snapping on my custom-made one-can headset over the top. Terry and Gunny, the two asshole technicians who refer to me as an “MMH,” (mobile mike holder) clipped the cable to the collar of my shirt, tested the signals by almost shattering my right eardrum with feedback, and sent me out to find the leaders. Sadly, by the time I’d gone a few holes with Beem’s group, it became apparent that the giant cholesterol-infested greaseburger I had consumed for lunch was looking for an exit, and an epic intestinal battle was taking place. I have a feeling I’ve described this one somewhere in cyberspace before, and it was pretty revolting the first time, so in the interests of journalistic decency, this time I’ll try to put it into a science-fiction context for y’all:
Outwardly the scene was normal, as Talent Pack One cruised the sector 12 landing area, but within the confines of the humanoid’s thoraxial cavity, suspended in a huge ball of gas, the alien creature was making itself ready for another run at the southern portal. Outside, in the atmosphere, the humanoid they called “Beemer” was preparing to transport the white dwarf toward the event horizon, when the commander of the telecast received a distress call from Talent Pack One.
“Do not, repeat, do not call in Talent Pack One,” came the plaintive cry. “I am under attack from within, by an unknown weapon, presumed biological. Southern Portal is weakening! Talent Pack One, heading for Cosmic Relief Station at warp factor 9000, Code Blue! Repeat, Code Blue! Incoming! All spectator drones in line for Cosmic Relief Station Abort, Abort, Abort! Get the hell out of my way, you assholes!
Meanwhile back on earth, I’m running headlong for the portalets, across the 12th green, right behind Beemer, as he putts.
He putts, he misses!
Strangely, he is not pissed off, or at least not as pissed off as I, for despite my gallant effort to reach safe harbor on the other side of the 12th green, as I pass him my hitherto heroic sphincter sadly surrenders to the attack of the cholesterol-bomb, resulting in a catastrophic failure of the trouser variety, or if you like, a supernova of the shorts.
Now, you all might well be asking yourselves why the hell I would share this with you, but the following day, when I joined Beemer’s group for the final round, the first thing he did when he saw me was reach into his golf bag, and toss me a bottle of Pepto-Bismol.
Laughing, he said, “Take a swig of that, and maybe we can get around without hurting each other!”
So I did, and tossed it back to him.
Fast-forward to this year’s final round of the International, and a conversation I had with Beemer during a rain delay. He told me that he has a swig of Pepto before every round he plays, just to make sure “nothing happens down there!” Hey, what a recommendation!
I don’t know about you, but I thought Beemer’s performance was one of the greatest displays of intestinal fortitude I’ve ever seen on a golf course, and it was made even more special by the transparent nature of the man. Here is a hero for the ordinary Joe. Steve Lowery is a great guy, but I felt that every single person who watched that telecast, from the pros in the locker room, to the folks at home, lived and died every minute of it with the Beemer.
You love a guy like that, because you know him — he’s you. If the makers of Pepto-Bismol want a spokesman, they should think about paying Beem a fortune to carry a big, dusty pink bag next season.