Bud, Sweat, and Tees: A Walk on the Wild Side of the PGA Tour

( 2 )


The PGA Tour is the most interesting subculture in sports, though you wouldn't know it from most golf books. The Tour is home to rowdy, randy young men often drunk with money and fame; fueled by alcohol and adrenaline, they barnstorm from town to town like rock stars, with all the attendant excesses. And in each player's shadow is his faithful caddie -- performing a thankless six-figure job that comes with all the security of a handshake deal. The PGA Tour offers fabulous ...

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The PGA Tour is the most interesting subculture in sports, though you wouldn't know it from most golf books. The Tour is home to rowdy, randy young men often drunk with money and fame; fueled by alcohol and adrenaline, they barnstorm from town to town like rock stars, with all the attendant excesses. And in each player's shadow is his faithful caddie -- performing a thankless six-figure job that comes with all the security of a handshake deal. The PGA Tour offers fabulous rewards, but its good life does not come without a price.

In Bud, Sweat, and Tees, Alan Shipnuck takes a no-holds-barred look at modern professional golf. Rich Beem, the hero of our story, joined the Tour as the most clueless of rookies, a logo-free rube only a couple of years removed from the straight world, where he made seven dollars an hour hawking cell phones. Beem took his winnings from big-money matches all across the state of Texas and scraped together enough to go out on Tour, but as he would quickly find out, getting to the big leagues is only half the battle. The fun-loving Beem, more likely to pound beers than range balls, first struggled to fit in among the country-club brats who populate the pro golf scene, and then had to fight to survive the cutthroat competition and crushing self-doubt. Staying true to his girl back home would prove equally challenging.

Meanwhile, Steve Duplantis, the one-time golden boy of the Tour's caddie ranks, was enduring his own tribulations. At the tender age of twenty-one Duplantis began packing for Jim Furyk, and together they reached the pinnacle of the golf world, from Ryder Cup dustups to near misses at the Masters. But like Beem, Duplantis has a taste for the wild life, which helps explain how he wound up as a single dad, trying to balance the demands of fatherhood with the siren song of the road -- a juggling act that eventually cost him his lucrative job on Furyk's bag. Fate brought Duplantis and Beem together, and in their first tournament, the Kemper Open, they pulled off one of the most improbable triumphs in golf history.

What happens next, at this unlikely intersection of lives and careers? How does a lifelong underdog like Beem handle overnight fame and fortune? Would Duplantis make good on this second chance and turn his career, and maybe his life, around? And would Beem and Duplantis's partnership survive the course of a turbulent season chock full of enough misadventures to land them in a Scottish jail?

Bud, Sweat, and Tees is a sometimes bawdy, often hilarious, and always unpredictable account of a strange and magical year in the lives, on and off the course, of golfer and caddie. An exciting and often poignant story, it stands as the best insider's sports book since Jim Bouton's Ball Four, and marks Alan Shipnuck as a writer of extraordinary promise.

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Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
"Just remember the three ups," a seasoned caddy tells the sportswriter Rick Reilly, before Reilly makes his caddying début at the Masters. "Show up, keep up, and shut up." In Who's Your Caddy?, he carries the bag for the likes of David Duval and Casey Martin and listens in on the conversations taking place on those hushed sunlit greens. Reilly quickly becomes attuned to the demands of pros, who can be "just slightly more finicky than the Sultan of Brunei." Still, as he learns how to avoid rattling the clubs or knocking over Jack Nicklaus' bag, he gets plenty of experience approaching not only the greens but the golfers, both the famous and the famously avid. Reilly chats with Donald Trump about building seven-million-dollar waterfalls and asks Deepak Chopra, "Is cheating in golf wrong?"

Don Van Natta, Jr., takes up that same question in a round with Bill Clinton, in First Off the Tee, a look at America's various golf-playing Presidents. Theodore Roosevelt steered politicians away from the sport's apparent élitism, warning, "Golf is fatal." Likewise, John F. Kennedy, probably the best of the Presidential duffers, didn't want voters to know he was any good; unlike his predecessor, the golfophilic Dwight D. Eisenhower, Kennedy vigorously avoided being photographed on the links.

Today, golf has shed some of that high-class sheen; Alan Shipnuck's Bud, Sweat & Tees chronicles run-ins with strippers and gamblers as it follows the ascent of 2002 P.G.A. Championship winner Rich Beem on the pro tour. Beem's philosophy is similarly rebellious: "Pedal to the metal, fire at every flag. It's go low or go home."

(Lauren Porcaro)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Despite its droll title, Sports Illustrated writer Shipnuck's first book affords an earnest and unsentimental portrayal of life on the PGA tour. It follows two of golf's lesser-known figures through the 1999 season: a rookie named Rich Beem, who won the Kemper Open that year, and his caddie Steve Duplantis. Both men open up to Shipnuck about their personal histories, as do their families, friends, colleagues, lovers and former employers. Tightly weaving the private with the professional, the author chronicles Beem's inconsistent, occasionally brilliant performances on the golf course, alongside his past jobs, romances and periodic problems with alcohol. Duplantis, who often falls short in his responsibilities as a caddy because of his inability to manage a turbulent personal life, gets a similarly nuanced treatment. Indeed, the depth to which Shipnuck delves into their difficulties with money, family and their own partnership gives his narrative an almost painful poignancy. As for the golf itself, the author clearly knows his subject, and his keen-eyed descriptions of Beem and Duplantis at work both entertain and enlighten. He gives an exciting play-by-play of their miraculous victory at the Kemper Open, wherein Beem executed one brilliant shot after another, mainly as a result of Duplantis's ego-boosting exhortations. By tempering such stories of his subjects' heroics with the mundane realities of their lives, Shipnuck portrays them as flawed, likeable people who struggle like the rest of us, with imperfect results. (Jan.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641599569
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/9/2001
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.99 (d)

First Chapter


"I know what you're thinking," Rich Beem said, by way of hello. "Guy wins one tournament and he thinks he can start dressing like Spicoli."

Turned out in a wrinkled T-shirt, silky purple basketball shorts, and flip-flops, Beem couldn't quite pass for the celebrated stoner from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but tonight he was clearly high on life. Eight days had passed since his stunning victory at the 1999 Kemper Open. Beem had gone into that tournament a clueless twenty-eight-year-old rookie in the throes of a two-month slump, but over four giddy, magical days he summoned the best golf of his life, producing one of the most unlikely victories on the PGA Tour in recent memory. (The headline in GolfWorld said it all: "Who in the World is Rich Beem?") Now, bellied up to the bar at an Outback Steakhouse outside Memphis, Beem was still basking in the afterglow. He had just spent the afternoon at the driving range of the Tournament Players Club of Southwind, site of that week's PGA Tour event, the FedEx-St. Jude Classic. Having taken the last week off, for previously scheduled laser surgery to correct his nearsightedness, this was Beem's first day back at work and his new life was beginning to come into focus. His first inkling that things had changed irrevocably in the wake of his victory was when the parking lot attendant at the golf course knew his name, a first. Then he found the front of his locker to be practically invisible, owing to the veneer of hand-scribbled notes that had been taped on. None of this, however, prepared Beem for the scene at the range, where upon his arrival he was treated like the fifth Beatle. His buddy Paul Stankowski dropped to his knees to salaam, and David Sutherland, a ten-year pro, rushed up to say, "I haven't watched golf on TV in years. I hate to watch it on TV. But I watched every minute of the Kemper on Sunday and I was screaming at my TV the whole time." The unctuous manufacturers' reps, who only a week earlier hadn't afforded Beem even the token fawning, now plied him with business cards in the same manner randy patrons at a strip club throw soiled dollar bills at the dancers.

"Some unbelievably cool things have happened to me since the Kemper," Beem said, taking a long swig from his beer, "but nothing compares to seeing that I have the respect of my peers. Nothing. Tell you what, that'll make your head spin."

The first sign of the dizzying hysteria came less than an hour after the final putt had dropped, when Beem checked his cell phone and found seventeen voice messages. (Over the next week he would log some 2,600 minutes on his Motorola, and his phone bill for the month after Kemper would come to nearly $900. "If cell phones do cause cancer," his caddie, Steve Duplantis, said at one point, "then he'll be coming down with a tumor by next week.") When Beem checked his email the morning after the victory there were congratulatory messages from everybody from John Daly to three old friends from Berlin, where Beem, something of a military brat, had spent his high school years. It was serendipity, then, that the laser surgery gave Beem an alibi for skipping the tournament immediately following the Kemper, Jack Nicklaus's exclusive invitational, the Memorial. With his victory Beem had scored an automatic invite, and in his champion's press conference he had made a point of apologizing to "Mr. Nicklaus" for standing him up. (Privately, Beem said, "I think Jack'll get over it.") Beem needed the week off to get a little perspective, so he took refuge with his girlfriend, Amy Onick, in San Diego, where her mother lived. Lying on the beach did wonders for Beem's equilibrium, if not his golf game.

Between the laser surgery and gallivanting around San Diego, Beem spent all of one hour hitting balls in the eight days between the Kemper and his arrival in Memphis. Clearly, his mind was on other things, like, say, what kind of convertible he should buy with the $450,000 winner's check. In the heady moments after his victory Beem had been crowing about purchasing a Porsche Boxster, and the only thing that held him back was that his agents were supposedly burning up the phone line trying to secure an endorsment deal with BMW. "BMer and Beemer," Beem said, invoking his nickname. "How perfect is that?"

Already on his second pint of beer, Beem was properly relaxed, and he laughed at the hardship of having to choose between a Porsche or a BMW. Huddled next to him at the bar was a reminder of his former life, which is to say, his life before Kemper %151; Todd Pinneo, a former teammate at New Mexico State University. Pinneo had spent the last year and a half on the low-rent Hooters tour, sleeping in fleabag motels and playing for little more than gas money. Like Beem, Pinneo was going to tee it up the following morning at the regional finals of U.S. Open qualifying, hoping to earn a spot in the national championship, which was to be played the following week.

Duplantis was there, too, cradling in his lap a golden little girl in pigtails %151; his daughter, Sierra, three and a half years old. It was a jarring sight. With his goatee and his Billy Idol sneer, Duplantis, twenty-six, was straight out of central casting for a disaffected Gen-Xer. The kid part didn't add up. Fussing over Sierra was a toothsome young woman who Duplantis introduced as Shannon %151; no last name, and no nouns attached. Those would come later.

Eventually this motley crew moved to a table for dinner, and the conversation flowed as readily as the Coors Light. Pinneo was having a laugh at his friend's expense, telling of the time that Beem had been drafted into service as a playing coach for the New Mexico State golf team. Before the final round of the tournament Beem had stood in front of his teammates and, voice thick with emotion, said, "Boys, we've got the chance to do something special today. Let's go out there and show them what Aggie golf is all about."

"It was," said a deadpan Pinneo, "one of the most inspirational speeches I have ever heard." This led Beem to fire a crouton across the table at Pinneo.

Before the entrees had even come the golf-centric conversation was bouncing from topic to topic like, well, a stray crouton. For a minute the subject was professional golfers' favorite beer (consensus: Coors Light), which led to the question of how much water a player should drink during a round in Memphis in the summer (eight bottles), which led to a discussion of whether Tour caddies should be able to wear shorts (Answer: No. Why? Two words: Fluff's legs), which led to a dissertation on Nick Faldo's former caddie, Fanny Sunenson (cool girl, with a mouth like a truck driver), which led, inevitably, to an analysis of Faldo's intriguing domestic situation. "This is what I don't get," said Duplantis. "Faldo pays like twenty million dollars to get rid of his wife, and then he goes straight to Brenna [Cepelak, famously a college coed when the romance began]. I'm sorry, but that girl's got a big ol' butt. For twenty million dollars, a guy like Faldo oughtta be getting a better return on his investment."

At this point Beem piped up. "I knew Brenna before Faldo did." There was something lascivious in his tone, and it set the table atwitter.

"What do you mean, you knew her?"

"In the biblical sense?"

"All I'm saying," said Beem, "is that I knew her before Nicky did." His Cheshire cat smile said enough.

Noticeably detached from all the jocularity was Shannon, who had kept herself busy throughout the evening by tending to Sierra. Of course, she didn't have to say much to still make an impression. Shannon was curvier than 17 Mile Drive, a fact that was highlighted by a pair of shorts that were little more than a rumor and a clingy, low-cut top. She had a blinding smile, eyes of the bluest sky, and her auburn tresses were done up in a fashionable bob, falling across her forehead just so. Shortly after the Faldo repartee she sashayed to the powder room, and every guy at the table followed her progress with their eyes, including Beem. Noting this, Duplantis said, "Don't hurt yourself, Beemer."

"I just wanted to see where the rest rooms are, in case I have to go later," was Beem's coy response. This brought a smirk from Duplantis. The easy camaraderie was a good sign. Improbably, the Kemper had been their first tournament working together. Two months ealier Duplantis had been fired by Jim Furyk, after four and a half blockbuster years that established Furyk as one of the top players in the world. Out of desperation Duplantis had, the week before the Kemper, rung up Beem to plead for a job. Beem was delighted at the prospect, because he was having such a sorry year that no established caddie would so much as give him the time of day. The player-caddie dynamic is always delicate, to the point that it is often discussed in the nomenclature of courtship. For Beem and Duplantis, then, winning their first tournament together was like sleeping together on a first date %151; fun, to be sure, but complicated. If Beem and Duplantis were going to have a meaningful long-term relationship they would need a few more nights like this, getting to know each other better.

By the time Shannon returned to the table, the talk had moved to the upcoming British Open (which Faldo had won three times). Hearing this, she perked up visibly.

"Stevie has some interesting stories about the British Open," she said, shooting Duplantis an icy glare.

"Now, now, I don't think we really want to talk about this here."

"Oh, so now you're having second thoughts."

"Shannon, c'mon."

Beem spoke for the rest of the table when he asked, "Is there something you two would like to share?"

"No, there's really nothing left to say on the topic," Shannon said archly. The rest of the evening dissolved into thick steaks and hearty laughs. Over dessert, Beem, for the first time, grew a bit pensive. "I kinda feel like tomorrow is the start of the rest of my career," he said. "My whole life I've been clawing to get out here, and now I'm here. I know I've got a job for the next two years [winning a tournament brings a two-year exemption onto the PGA Tour], and I've never had that kind of security. But you know what, winning a tournament dun't mean shit if you disappear afterwards. What I need to do is build from here."

Good-byes were said, and then it was off to bed. Tomorrow would be an eventful day.

U.S. Open qualifying is the purest form of sport. In 1999 a record 7,889 players %151; both amateur and professional %151; took a swing and a prayer into the three-layered qualifying. When the dust settled, the ninety-two who had shot the lowest scores earned tee times at the Open. Beem was playing at Memphis National Golf Club, one of thirteen sectional qualifying sites dotted around the country, and, due to the high concentration of Tour regulars, certainly the most cutthroat. One hundred and sixteen players beat the sun to Memphis National to walk thirty-six holes in the brutal summer heat, and only twenty-four would leave happy.

By the end of the morning round Beem looked like a good bet to be one of them. He went out on the tougher South course and shot a 68 that easily could have been a 64 had his putter not overslept. Only nineteen players opened with lower rounds, but with so many gunning for so few spots, Beem knew the afternoon would be a shootout. "It's go low or go home," Beem said. "Pedal to the metal, fire at every flag, and don't stop making birdies until you get to the parking lot." This kind of golf suited Beem just fine. He is an explosive, albeit unpredictable, player. After striking a few practice putts during the lunch break he was confident he still had a low round in him. He stepped to the North course, where he would start on the back nine, and crushed a drive to open his afternoon round. The march to the U.S. Open had begun.

Playing with Beem was a young man named Steve Bell, an assistant pro at Memphis National whose legs were so skinny and white they could have doubled as out-of-bounds stakes. Bell had a nice-looking swing but was clearly rattled by the magnitude of the event and the caliber of player he was competing against. His sideways shots were not the only reason why there wasn't quite the same tension as Sunday at the Kemper. At one point during the round Duplantis relieved himself in a ditch not ten paces from a tee box. By his 25th hole Beem's concentration was visibly fizzling. As he was idling on the tee of number 16, a reachable par-5, he and Bell were distracted by the Spanish of some men working on the roof of a house adjacent to the course. This led Bell to wonder out loud if his playing partner was bilingual, being from the Southwest and all.

"Put it this way," said Beem, "I speak enough Spanish to get you a blow job in Juárez, Mexico, for five bucks."

"That'll be my swing thought," said Bell, as he settled over his ball. He proceeded to uncork a screaming hook, which settled only a few paces short of O.B. After the ball had come to rest there was a pregnant pause, then both Beem and Bell cracked up.

U.S. Open qualifying is not a laughing matter, however, and on the very next hole, a short, straightforward par-4, Beem's insouciance caught up with him. He made a lazy swing with his driver and dumped his ball into a fairway bunker, where it snuggled under the lip, leaving him an impossible lie. He was forced to blast back out to the fairway, and from there he tried to get too cute with a sand wedge, spinning it into a fried-egg lie in a deep bunker fronting the green. He gouged that out to fifteen feet, a putt he missed, resulting in an exceedingly sloppy double bogey. Walking off the green Beem angrily gave the finger to the hole. A stout birdie on the 18th brought him back to even par on his opening nine, and four under overall, but strolling toward the first tee he got a glimpse of the other scores, and the news wasn't encouraging. It looked like it would take 8 or 9 under par to sneak into the Open, which meant Beem needed no worse than a 32 on the final nine to have a shot. Go low or go home, indeed.

At this point Beem and Duplantis got their respective game faces on, but up until then there had been plenty of loose talk. Duplantis was more than happy to circle back to his barbed exchange with Shannon from the previous evening. "Okay, here's the whole story," he said, and over the span of a couple of holes he unspooled a doozy.

It turns out that he had asked Shannon %151; who did in fact have a last name, Pennington %151; to marry him less than a year earlier. Duplantis proposed at the Orlando airport just before jetting off for the British Open at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England. It was all very romantic. Two days later Duplantis had a fling with an English lass he met in a bar. "Hey, shit happens," he says. The indiscretion might have remained a secret had Pennington not decided to thoughtfully do her fiancé's laundry upon his return. Stuffed into a pants pocket was a cocktail napkin with some exceedingly incriminating information scribbled on it. "Shannon was pissed, of course," says Duplantis, "but I was pretty much able to put out the fire. I told her it was a meaningless one-time mistake, and that I'd never hear from that chick again. I even gave her a bunch of money to go shopping so she could cheer herself up. Unfortunately, she took my cell phone, too."

That was how Pennington wound up in an animated discussion with Duplantis's English concubine, who had called to reminisce. Pennington immediately packed her bags and went home to Dallas, and they had no contact for ten months. And then in mid-May, two weeks before the fateful Kemper Open, Duplantis traveled to the Byron Nelson Classic in Dallas. He was in desperate need of a loop and had gone to the Nelson to try to drum up some interest. Six weeks had passed since his firing and he hadn't had so much as a nibble from any other players, no doubt because of a reputation for chronic tardiness. As always, Duplantis had his excuses. Since September of 1997 he had had full custody of Sierra, and unlike the coddled millionaires they pack for, Tour caddies have no organized day care while on the road. He was also entangled in some messy divorce proceedings with Sierra's mother, Vicki %151; a stripper from the Philippines by way of Fort Worth, Texas. When Duplantis had been given his pink slip Furyk told him that he was doing it partly out of benevolence; Furyk wanted him to take some time off to get his life in order. Furyk %151; who off the course is straighter than six o'clock %151; also made it clear that he disapproved of Duplantis's lifestyle. Duplantis was well known as a serial skirt-chaser, and for maintaining Keith Richards hours. So, by the time Duplantis bumped into Pennington at a bar in Dallas he was a man trying to mend his ways, or at least give off appearances.

Duplantis told Pennington that he was thinking about calling a struggling rookie named Rich Beem, but he wasn't sure he wanted to head back out on tour again without some help caring for his daughter. In the ten months since the marriage proposal Pennington had often wondered about Sierra. Pennington adored her, and while she was dating Duplantis she had become like a surrogate mom. With little going on in her life back in Dallas she took the bait and agreed to travel with Duplantis as a paid nanny. Pennington made it clear the relationship would be strictly platonic.

"We'll see how long that lasts," Duplantis said from Memphis National, with a wolfish grin.

Back on the front nine Beem was showing some teeth, too, as he made a twisty thirty-footer for birdie on the second hole. He was now -5, with seven holes to play. Just after Beem had struck his drive on the 3rd hole Pennington showed up at the course, pushing Sierra in a stroller along the cart path. She was a vision in tight denim shorts, and it didn't take long for her to pick up the narrative.

"You know what the most unbelievable thing was?" she said in her Texas twang. "That napkin I found, it didn't just have that girl's home phone number. It had her email address, her business number, her cell phone, you name it. Gawd, I was so stupid. At least I had an excuse. I was only nineteen then."

Pennington eventually had her revenge, at least to some degree. "The engagement ring Stevie gave me was amazing, and of course he wanted it back. Well, I had bills to pay. I had given up my life for him, and when I got back to Dallas I was in debt. So you know what I did? I had a cubic zirconia made. I can only imagine how much he paid for the diamond, because it cost me five hundred dollars to have the zirconia done. Anyway, I pawned the ring and paid off all my bills, and then I gave him the fake one. By the way, I've never told him. I still don't think he knows."

Seeing Pennington talking a blue streak must have made Duplantis a tad uncomfortable, because he kept stealing glances in her direction. Beem, however, was demanding plenty of attention in his own right, as he made a little rally. He gave himself good birdie chances on the third and fourth holes, which he just missed, and after getting into trouble on the short, tricky par-4 5th hole, he holed a thirty-five-foot snake for par to keep hope alive. Meanwhile, Pennington continued to dish.

"You know, I think I'll always be friends with Stevie, because we've shared a lot, but I could never respect him enough to go out with him again," she said. "If he thinks I'm out here for him he's got another thing coming. I mean, if it wasn't for me he wouldn't have even been able to go to the Kemper Open, and who knows where he'd be. But like I said, I'm not out here for him, I'm out here for Sierra. I worry about what kind of life she is going to have. Stevie tries, but he's just a young guy who wants to have fun. I realize now that's why he asked me to marry him. He just wanted someone to take care of Sierra so he could go out and party. That hasn't changed, but at least now we have a business arrangement. I mean, this is how he thinks: he actually took Sierra's mother with him to a party this year, just so he could show her off. And they're supposedly in the middle of a divorce!"

That was at the season-opening Mercedes Championships, on the island of Maui. Prior to 1999 the Kapalua Invitational had been a small unofficial tournament played every fall, a cherished working vacation at the end of a long year. The players and their families were pampered in every way imaginable, and one of the highlights of the week was always a private rock concert with big name acts imported for the occasion. (An epic evening in 1996 featured Hootie & the Blowfish, at the apex of their popularity, as well as a dozen or so sodden Tour players who joined the group on stage to mangle one of their hits). In 1999 the low-key charm of the Invitational became a casualty in the big-money restructuring of the PGA Tour. Mercedes was brought in as the title sponsor, the field was restricted to winners from the previous season, and, with $2.6 million up for grabs, the players were compelled to act in a far more sober manner. Still, the Wednesday night concert endured, and in 1999 the featured group was the hip neo-swing band the Brian Setzer Orchestra. As good as their raucous two-hour set was, Duplantis stole the show. He spent the evening strolling the grounds of the Kapalua Ritz-Carlton with an impish grin and a darkly exotic beauty on his arm. She was wearing a minidress that appeared to have been painted on, accentuating a gravity-defying figure that called to mind Jessica Rabbit.

"I could tell you some stories about her," said Pennington. "Then again, we all make mistakes. How else can I explain Stevie?" Here she grew reflective. "I think what I need to do is find a nice rich golf pro to take care of me," Pennington said with a sigh. "Someone like Rich. He's a cutie."

At that moment Beem was indeed looking pretty good. After lipping out a fifteen-foot birdie putt on 6 he ran in a shocking fifty-footer for bird on the next hole, bringing him to six under par with two holes to play. Number 8 on Memphis National's North Course was an eminently birdie-able par-5. With the wind picking up in the afternoon, presumably sending scores soaring, Beem was well aware that another birdie might just get him into the U.S. Open. He pounded his drive down the middle of the eighth fairway and stalked after it. Pennington kept pace.

"You know," she said, "I met Rich's girlfriend, Amy somebody, at the Kemper. We all went out to dinner. I didn't like her very much. Typical schoolteacher." Meaning? "She's real quiet, kinda mousy even. And not very attractive. With all that's going on in Rich's life I don't see them lasting through the end of the year. I get the feeling Rich wants a taste of the life Steve's been living."

Beem laid up perfectly at the eighth and then stuck a wedge to five feet. As he was lining up the birdie putt Duplantis actually turned around and put a finger to his lips, trying to get Pennington to lower her voice. Beem didn't appear to have been distracted by her chattering, but after a series of brilliant putts something clearly affected him on this one, because he pulled it badly and never scared the hole. He pantomimed snapping his unfaithful putter over his knee before tapping in for a crushing par. But if Beem has anything, it's juevos. He played two textbook shots to the 9th green and then rolled in a frighteningly fast, downhill, right-to-left breaking birdie putt for a round of 69. He was seven under par overall, and there was still a glimmer.

Beem strode to the scoring area shaking his head, both anguished by the missed opportunities and exhilarated by his gutsy play over the final nine holes. There were still so many players on the course that it was impossible to say what the magic number would be, but one volunteer told Beem that -7 should be good enough for a playoff. He retreated to the air-conditioned clubhouse to cool off with a Pepsi, but it wasn't the caffeine that made him so jumpy. "I'll go out there in a playoff and birdie the first four holes if I have to," he said. "They're not gonna keep me out of this sonofabitch."

Not long after Beem sat down his buddy Pinneo strolled into the clubhouse, beaming. "Gimme a number," Beem said.

"Six." That was how many strokes under par Pinneo had finished.

"Well, then, what the hell are you smiling for?"

"Hey," said Pinneo, "not all of us are PGA Tour bigshots. I hung up a couple of good rounds [69-69], and for my first time through qualifying, I'll take it. You better go check the board because they just posted a bunch of scores."

At the moment Beem reached the scoring area there were twenty-three players posted at -8 or better, with five twosomes still unaccounted for. If just one of those ten players came in with a score better than -7, Beem was out of the U.S. Open.

"I may as well bend over and grab my ankles," he said.

By now a hundred players and those who loved them were crowded around the scoring area, and the mood was like an Irish wake %151; a weird mix of the somber and the euphoric. All attention was trained on two harried volunteers, who, equipped with walkie-talkies and felt tip pens, were feverishly trying to chronicle the action. Suddenly a walkie-talkie crackled, and one of the volunteers %151; an expressive older woman %151; put it to her ear. After another burst of noise she said softly, "Oh my." Over to board she scurried, and next to the name of David Toms, an occasionally explosive Tour veteran in the midst of a career year, she scribbled the harsh truth: 64-63, 17 under par. "You have got to be fuckin' shittin' me," Beem said. He ripped off his hat and slapped his knee hard, then began ambling toward the parking lot alone. The United States Open %151; the biggest tournament of the year %151; would be played next week and Beem was going to have to watch it on TV, as always.

Apparently life as a PGA Tour champion was not going to be as easy as he imagined.

Copyright © 2001 by Alan Shipnuck

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Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

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