Rich Beem admitted he was “shocked, surprised and elated” after firing a commendable three-under 69 in the opening round of the Houston Open.
Beemer has been a regular on the PGA Tour over the last few seasons, but with microphone in hand rather than a golf club in his role as commentator for Sky Sports, but the 49-year-old made the most of a late invite to the event in his home state.
The 2002 PGA champion, who had his son, Michael, on the bag, made a steady start with a pair of pars but then pulled his tee shot at the third into the water on the left and the mistake led to a bogey-five.
But that proved to be his only blemish of the day, and Beem got back to level with a birdie at the fifth and added another at the long eighth, where he drilled a 230-yard second to the heart of the green and safely two-putted to get under the card for the round.
Beem, who birdied five of the last six holes at Bethpage Black to make the cut at this year’s PGA Championship in May, got another putt to drop for birdie at the 11th, and he holed from 20 feet on the penultimate green before closing with a solid par at the last.
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“I’m shocked, surprised and elated, all at the same time,” he told the Sky Sports studio. “I’ve been trying to practise, but how do you practise for tournament golf without playing in an actual tournament?
“So to go out there and shoot 69 when I wasn’t 100 per cent sure about my game, I’m over the moon. It was a blast. When I played a practice round on Wednesday, my game felt ‘iffy’, and very uncomfortable at times!
“I can’t say I don’t know where my ball is going, but I’m not confident it will go exactly where I’m thinking it’s going to go. So I had to hedge my bets a few times and try to take parts of the golf course out of play.
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Having a bit of fun on the way to @houopengolf!! Tee off at 7:35 today, 12:25 Friday. Iâ€™ll have a wrap up show on Monday during my @Beemerbaldguy podcast, chatting about the highlights, and most importantly, the lowlights during the week! This is for you @daveshedloski!!ðŸ˜‚ðŸ˜‚#Houston Open
“I played to the centre of a lot of greens and I was slightly conservative off the tee, focused on getting it in play rather than trying to hit it too far, and obviously it worked pretty well today! Keeping it simple was all I could do, because if I get too technical, I’ll get lost.
“My game management was the best part of my game, I got out of position a couple of times and just took what I could and aimed for the centre of the green, even if I was 50 or 60 feet from the flag. It was a case of trying to make pars that way and not attempt anything too heroic.