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  Monday, 19 August, 2002, 00:16 GMT 01:16 UK
Beem defies the odds
Rich Beem surprised everyone with his form at Hazeltine
Beem quit golf to sell car stereos in 1995

Of all the candidates to deny Tiger Woods a clean sweep of the American Majors in 2002, few started the week as more of an outsider than Rich Beem.

  The man from El Paso
1970: Born August 24, El Paso, Texas
1994: Turns professional
1995: Quits the game temporarily and sells cellular phones and car stereos
1998: Returns to competitive golf
1999: Wins Kemper Open
2002: Wins The International in August
2002: Wins USPGA in same month

The 31-year-old from El Paso in Texas was struggling so much seven years ago that he quit the game to sell mobile phones and car stereos in Seattle.

Beem only graduated to the PGA Tour in 1999 and arrived at Hazeltine with almost no track record in Major championships.

He had only ever played in three, missing the cut at the 1999 Open and 2001 US Open and tying for 70th place at the 1999 USPGA.

Beem failed to qualify for the first three Majors of the year and his victory at The International two weeks ago was just his second PGA title, elevating him to 15th on the money list with $1,643,722 (1m).

He still carries in his wallet his identification card from Magnolia Hi-Fi in Seattle to remind him how far he has come.

"I just really thought I wanted to become an everyday Joe, work a blue-collar job and just play on the weekends," said Beem.

"I was content with that but something inside of me just kept pulling me back to try to do this for a living."

In 1999 Beem persuaded 30 investors to back him on the tour to the tune of $80,000 (52,000).

He rewarded them with just two top 10 finishes, but one of them was a victory in the Kemper Open.


Guys like me aren't supposed to contend in a Major
Rich Beem

Beem failed to make the top 10 in a single tournament in 2000 and ranked 109th on the money list last year.

While he may not have been turning heads on the course Beem was attracting attention away from the fairways.

Alongside his then caddie Steve Duplantis, the pair's drinking, gambling and womanising were detailed in Alan Shipnuck's book about journeyman pros, "Bud, Sweat and Tees".

Beem eventually parted company with Duplantis, settled down and got married and is now making golf more of a priority than nightclubs.

He spent most of this extraordinary week at Hazeltine playing down his victory chances.

"It's a Major, and guys like me aren't supposed to contend in a Major," he admitted before the final round.

"It takes something special to win a Major, and I don't know if I've got it."

Eighteen holes later he had his answer - and the Wanamaker Trophy.

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 ON THIS STORY
Rich Beem
"I'm surprised at myself"

Beem takes title

Final leaderboard

Hazeltine reaction

Photo galleries

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