Rich Beem has fond memories of the celebrations that followed his US PGA Championship victory in 2002.
Incomplete memories, it must be said, but fond ones nonetheless.
That’s why the American was delighted to see Shane Lowry sit out this week’s WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis to channel his energy into celebrating last weekend's Open win instead.
Irishman Lowry made the decision to stay on the Emerald Isle and bask in the glory of his maiden major triumph rather than hop on a jet and fly across the Atlantic to play in this week's World Golf Championship.
A good call, according to Beem.
“I don’t blame him one bit,” the tour pro turned Sky Sports Golf commentator told bunkered.co.uk. “Winning a major is brutal. It takes a lot out of you. It represents reaching the pinnacle of your sport and is why we all play, so you have to celebrate it.
“I read a stat somewhere recently that, of all the men who have ever have picked up a golf club, less than 250 have won a major. I think that shows the rarefied company you are in. So, you have to celebrate and it looks as though Shane has.
“Put it this way, I imagine the good people of Ireland would have been pretty upset if he decided not to share the Claret Jug with them this week and had gone to Memphis instead!”
Beem’s own breakthrough came at Hazeltine National in the 2002 US PGA. He closed with a 68 to win by a shot from Tiger Woods, who was looking for his second major win of the season and ninth overall.
Beem had played in only three majors prior to that week, with a best finish of T70 to show for his efforts. Suffice to say, he enjoyed the celebrations.
“My wife and caddie and I went straight home to Seattle afterwards and we stayed up until 4am the next morning giggling,” he laughs. “They didn’t allow you to take the Wanamaker Trophy with you at that time and there was no replica to drink from either, so we just had plastic cups that were filled early and often. Things definitely got a little hazy but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“Unlike Shane, I actually played the following week and I did pretty well, finishing in the top-ten. But by the time I got done that week, I didn’t want to pick up a club again for a long time. I think we partied for three weeks solid.”
The El Paso Country Club in Texas, where Beem grew up threw a huge party for him, just as it did when other club members Lee Trevino and JP Hayes won the 1968 US Open and 1998 Buick Classic respectively.
A street in the town was even named after him.
“It’s pretty surreal to drive down Rich Beem Boulevard,” he adds. “Surreal, but very, very cool. It was an incredible time. So many opportunities came my way. I had expected some of them but not all. My life changed forever after that win and I imagine it will be the same for Shane.”
Beem saw Lowry’s win at Royal Portrush up close as part of the Sky Sports Golf team. By his own admission, he’s not the sort of person to take pictures on the golf course but made an exception to film a short clip of the Irishman’s walk up 18 on Sunday.
“It gave me goosebumps. It was almost other-worldly. An Irishman winning the first Open on the island of Ireland in a generation? You couldn’t have written a better script.”
Of course, the partying will eventually stop and Lowry will need to get back to work. Beem’s advice for his fellow major champ? Don’t expect too much from yourself.
“Managing your expectations is key,” he said. “If he struggles, people will be quick to jump on him but that comes with the territory. You do something huge, that’s then because the minimum some people expect of you. So, not letting that affect you and sticking to your own goals and plans is huge.
“The thing about Shane is that he has always been a great player. The difference going forward is that he’s going to have his own crowds. People are going to come out specifically to watch him and that will take a bit of getting used to. So, he’s got to keep on being himself, being kind to himself and surrounding himself with the good people he has around him.
“I always think it’s good to have somebody you can trust who has nothing to do with golf and who just knows you. An old schoolfriend or a constant like that. They can give you a different perspective from the outside looking in. They knew you before you were ‘Shane Lowry, Major Champion’ and will be able to keep you true to yourself. That’s what got him here – being true to himself. Why change it now?”
Beem added: “Shane is about to discover that he has now got all the time in the world to do and become everything he ever want to be. Time is a luxury when you’re a major champion. When you’re playing poorly, it’s not on your side. When you’ve got a major victory on your resumé, you’ve got lots of it and nothing to prove. You’ve just got to enjoy the ride.
“He’s in a really good place right now – a great place, judging by the pictures and videos on social media this past week! I honestly couldn’t be happier for him. As Paul McGinley said, he ‘loves to live’. I was blown away by his performance at Portrush and I can’t wait to watch him over the next few years.”