Maybe the Auto Club would route him differently. Likewise, one of those talking GPS contraptions. But Rich Beem has settled on a unique and personal direction of travel. The road from his home in Austin, Texas, back to the PGA Tour will run through Ahmedabad and then continue in Pune before winding up in Panama City.
Ahmedabad and Pune, as in cities in India?
Panama City along the legendary canal?
Beem laughs, knowing it doesn't compare with the relatively simple PGA Tour road that some are on right now -- you know, going all the way from Palm Springs to San Diego to Phoenix to Pebble Beach, quick hops where there's barely time for beverage service. But few colleagues embrace a perspective and a humility like Beem, who sees his predicament as something he created -- and something he can try to fix.
Having finished 186th on the money list a year ago, Beem tried to regain his status at Q-School, only to withdraw halfway through second stage. A family situation arose, and he said "there are no regrets" for his decision to stop the golf and return home. He knew he would be forced to play out of the past-champion category for 2013 and that starts would be hard to come by, which explains his upcoming journey to India.
"Have to play where I can," said Beem, 42, the 2002 PGA champion. "I'm so far in limbo, and I don't have enough experience behind the microphone."
So . . . hello, India. Much to his surprise, too, because he never has been to that part of the world and never really envisioned teeing it up there. But last summer while playing in Europe he was told about an idea being developed for 2013 by Shiv Kapur, an Indian member of the European Tour. Beem liked what he heard about something called the India Golf Premier League Tournament. Eight cities, or "franchises," will feature four players each in a three-day tournament Feb. 8-10 in Pune, which is in the southern part of India, about 700 miles from New Delhi.
As a testament to the true richness of global golf, Beem will see familiar faces there, because Darren Clarke, Angel Cabrera, Michael Campbell, Stefan Edfors, David Howell and Daniel Chopra will participate.
Excited as he is about the adventure, Beem figured if he was going to go halfway around the world, he should try and add to his schedule. So he secured a spot at the European Challenge Tour season opener (Jan. 31-Feb. 3), the Gujaret Kensville Challenge in Ahmedabad, a city of nearly 6 million residents some 500 miles southwest of New Delhi.
Now, the two tournaments don't offer massive purses and even fewer world-ranking points, but it's all about playing opportunities, and they're very thin for him in the US.
"If you're not proactive, you're not going to get anywhere," he said.
Beem has done his due diligence and written to tournament directors for possible sponsor exemptions, but he appreciates how tough that landscape is.
"Tournament directors have been very good to me, and young kids certainly deserve their chances," said Beem, who isn't like so many others, standing there for a hand-out as if he had a sense of entitlement. He watched Russell Henley storm to victory at the Sony Open in his first start as a PGA Tour member and thinks it was "one of the coolest things I've ever seen, just fantastic," and in his mind, "golf has never been healthier."
That's the good news. But the flip side is, it means the road back to full PGA Tour status is that much more difficult.
"So I've got my work cut out for me," Beem said. "But saying that, I'm not afraid to go out there. It's a hard game, but I've been texting back-and-forth with David Duval (at 41, another former major champ without status), and I still believe there's a place in the game for guys like us."
If so, it will come after a long and grueling road, because after the two events in India, Beem will play in the Web.com Tour season opener, the Panama Claro Championship (Feb. 21-24). There'll be a bit of symmetry to that one, because as a child he lived in Panama and his father played the tournament venue, Panama Golf Club, years ago in the Panama Open.
As of now, he's planning on doing the Monday qualifiers in March for the Shell Houston Open and Valero Texas Open. (He shot 78 and missed Monday for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.) He also has Augusta on his schedule. No, he's not in the field, but as a former major winner, Beem is eligible to take part in the Par 3 Tournament the Wednesday of the Masters, and he plans on doing just that.
"I have some business relations up there," Breem said, "so I'll probably go and have a few grins and a good time."
After that? Beem figures he'll direct his attention to the Web.com Tour, which he concludes is pretty much his best way back to the PGA Tour. As to those rejections that are likely to come in answer to his request for sponsor exemptions? Beem stands tall.
"I don't mind hearing the 'nos,' " Beem said. "When they say 'no,' there's no offense, because at the end of the day, I want to tell them, 'Yes.' As in, 'Yes, I'm still around.' I'm very optimistic."
An enduring love affair
For a stretch of mid-January days for several years, Dana Quigley was accustomed to having son Devon by his side. The Champions Tour tournament at Hualalai on The Big Island of Hawaii "was our favorite spot of the year," Dana said.
On these cold and wintry January days, they are together as usual -- only it's not about golf, but an unyielding love and a faith in God that grows stronger by the day.
"From the outside, it looks terrible," Dana said. "But this has brought us all closer to the Lord. We'll be all right. The Lord will carry this kid through."
"This" was the car accident Dec. 1, 2011 in Riviera Beach, Fla., that left Devon Quigley, then 27, near death. In a coma for months, he has shown an incredible fight for 14 months. He was moved back to his native Rhode Island last August to live with his mother, Charlotte, and sister, Nicole, who take care of him 24/7 with such a devotion that Dana Quigley is left in awe.
"His mother hasn't left his side," said Dana, who travels from his home in West Palm Beach, Fla., to spend five days every two weeks. "She is incredible."
Devon can't move or talk, but he can communicate with his eyes. Just yesterday, "He pulled his head up," Dana said with great pride. "Every day, we see improvements. They're little, but we see them."
He used to play every Champions Tour stop, but Dana Quigley appreciates the time with Devon much more. When he tells Devon he's going to play, which he will in a few weeks, "His eyes light up; he wants to hear that," Dana said.
But the truth is, with his 66th birthday coming in April, tournament starts for Dana Quigley will be far less frequent than in years past.
Not that he doesn't stay in tune, because he surely does.
"I've shot my age 13 times," Dana said, "and with the next birthday, it'll be that much easier."
Over the phone you could hear his laughter, but then he got quiet. He was sitting next to Devon, and that is always cause for great reflection.
"This is an incredible spiritual journey we're on," he said.
- Two tournaments into his career and Russell Henley is 526th on the career money list ($1,020,432), already ahead of three-time major winner Julius Boros and Masters champ Tommy Aaron.
- Speaking of career money, veteran caddie Lance Ten Broeck earned $790,347 in his playing career and sits 581st, 13 spots ahead of Sam Snead. That's right, Slammin' Sammy had 82 more wins, but Ten Broeck earned more money -- and had more fun, we suspect.
- So, how is it Bubba Watson missed out on this one? The original Batmobile was auctioned off last week for a cool $4.6 million. Especially since the auction was held in Scottsdale, Ariz., not far from where Watson lives, it seems like it was a golden chance to slide that baby in alongside the General Lee, the "Dukes of Hazzard" car that the Masters-winning left-hander owns.
- When Brian Kelly committed to playing in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, do you think he planned on some stress-free fun? Think Manti Te'o has changed that?
- Birdie festival? What birdie festival? Mark Brooks made only six in 54 holes of the Humana Challenge. Good gracious, rookie James Hahn made six in his first nine holes at the Palmer Course.
Talk about moving on up in a hurry. Scott Langley was notified Jan. 8 that he was part of the 2013 PGA Tour Player Advisory Council. Not bad, considering he hadn't even taken one swing as a PGA Tour member.
Of course, two days later, Langley sort of introduced himself in a big way, his 8-under-par 62 giving him the lead in the Sony Open.
At first, such an appointment would seem curious, a brand new rookie being placed into such a political position. But it actually makes sense, given the PGA Tour's commitment to make sure its PAC represents a diverse cross-section of members. "The last several years there's been a crescendo telling the PAC that it would be good to have someone from a group that numbers upwards of 30 rookies a year," said a PGA Tour official.
So it's seen as an effective political environment to have Langley, Andres Gonzales and Doug LaBelle II -- who entered 2013 with a combined 76 tournaments as PGA Tour members -- on the same council as Davis Love III and Bo Van Pelt -- who combine for a whopping 980.
To get the mixture, the PGA Tour divides its membership into seven categories based on achievement levels, experience and age. The leading vote-getter in each category is put on the PAC, and the second-place finisher who records the most amount of votes is the eighth member. To round out a 16-player PAC, eight players are then named by the player directors (Harrison Frazar, Jim Furyk, Paul Goydos and Steve Stricker).
First-time PAC members are Langley, Gonzales, LaBelle, Aaron Baddeley, Ryan Palmer and Brendan Steele.
Veterans Love, Van Pelt, Jason Bohn, Jeff Gove, Charley Hoffman, Joe Ogilvie, Geoff Ogilvy, Webb Simpson, Kevin Streelman and Mark Wilson round out the group.
Wild rices for veterans
David Toms and Mike Weir experienced the full spectrum of emotions at the Humana. Playing for the first time since the McGladrey Classic last October, Toms was 4 under through 10 holes when he went bogey, bogey, bogey, bogey, double bogey, double bogey and shot 75, which at the Humana is like an 85. The 13-time winner then followed with 16 birdies over his next 36 holes to push to 10 under and make the cut. But a final-round 72 left him ahead of just one of the 81 players who made the cut.
Still, it was worse for Weir, the 2003 Masters champ who is fighting a horrific slump. He was showing life when he birdied nine times in 13 holes in Round 3 to get to 11 under. But he bogeyed his 14th hole and hit two in the water at his 18th to make triple and miss his 18th consecutive cut. Weir hasn't made one since the AT&T National in July 2011.
Now, that's how to finish
While heralded youngster Jordan Spieth and a healthy list of PGA Tour veterans came up short in the Monday qualifier for this week's Farmers Insurance Classic, there were some closing fireworks from Brad Adamonis and Michael McCabe.
Mark Baker and Adam Hadwin each shot 64 to lead the way at El Camino CC. Adamonis in the afternoon group was muddling along at 2 under when he birdied the 11th, then exploded with a birdie, birdie, birdie finish and a 6-under 66.
Earlier, McCabe had caught fire to also shoot 66. Sitting just 1 under through 13 holes, he ripped off a closing stretch of birdie, par, birdie, eagle, birdie.
The 66s grabbed the third and fourth spots into the festivities at Torrey Pines.
As for Spieth, he was hoping to make his pro debut, but that will have to wait, because he was T-7 with a 68. Also coming up short were a long list of veteran PGA Tour types, among them Vaughn Taylor, Duffy Waldorf, Cameron Beckman, Lee Janzen, Alex Cejka, Jason Gore, Billy Mayfair, D.J. Trahan, Chris Riley and Heath Slocum. Others who failed were Jamie Lovemark, Kevin Tway and Troy Merritt.
Spieth can try and Monday qualify for next week's Waste Management Phoenix Open, but he knows he's got a spot coming the week after, in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He's also been given a sponsor's exemption into the Puerto Rico Open (March 7-10).