I always enjoy watching the Major Championships during the golf season.
They each have their own flair. The Masters is always spectacular in its beauty, and nothing can compare to watching that final 9 holes on Sunday afternoon.
The U.S. Open is typically played on what many would consider the most challenging venue of all the majors, and may be the most prestigious of all the tournaments to win.
The Open Championship offers us a look at classic link style golf, and you get to watch it early with a cup of coffee. Meanwhile, the PGA Championship is the last major, and almost gets overshadowed by the upcoming FedEx Cup Playoffs.
However, I have a special connection with the PGA Championship, and it dates me all the way back to my high school days.
Back in 1988, I was a sophomore at Las Cruces High School in Las Cruces, New Mexico. At the time, I considered myself to be the best player on our golf team, and I enjoyed being the leader. I had heard about a new kid who had just moved to town and was looking to join our golf team.
His name is Rich Beem.
Our initial meeting was friendly, but also a bit awkward. I could immediately tell that Rich was a talented player, and I honestly felt a bit threatened by it.
He would later say the same about me. We quickly became great friends, and our high school golf team had tremendous success, and we enjoyed sharing the spotlight.
Fast forward to August 2002 and by this time, Rich had already become a two-time PGA Tour winner as he teed off in the 2002 PGA Championship at Hazeltine National, in Chaska, Minnesota.
I enjoyed watching his name hover around the leaderboard for a few days, before eventually landing him in the final pairing heading into Sunday.
Could a Las Cruces High Bulldog actually pull this off? No way!
A few hours later, after a furious late round surge from Tiger Woods, my buddy Rich tapped in a short putt to win the PGA Championship. The victory dance that followed is still spoken about today, and that is the beauty of my friend Rich.
He is a free spirit, and is incredibly fun to be around.
I was fortunate to spend a few days with Rich at this year’s Masters. I cruised up Magnolia Lane in his bright red convertible, and we just laughed as we took it all in.
A couple of Las Cruces High Bulldogs enjoying an incredible moment together.
It was a blast.
When speaking with him about his PGA Championship, I’ll never forget this one story. Rich found himself behind a group of trees on the 18th hole during Saturday’s third round.
Behind the green was a scoreboard that was lined with flags from across the globe blowing in the wind. As he and his caddy conversed on how to play the shot, a bystander shouted out, “just aim at the South African flag and let the wind bring it in!”
Rich turned to the gentleman and joked, “I have no idea what that flag looks like!” Everyone laughed, and he went on to hit a great shot.
That’s my buddy, and I couldn’t be more proud to call him my teammate.