CHASKA -- He promised to vomit on the 16th hole if he was leading, but he didn't.
He promised he had no chance of winning a major, but he did.
Rich Beem broke many promises this week at Hazeltine National but the one he kept -- to never back down no matter how gigantic the odds -- was the most important.
Beem fought off his nerves, not to mention the greatest golfer in the world, to shoot a closing 68. He overcame a three-shot deficit and won the 84th PGA Championship by a single shot over a hard-charging Tiger Woods.
"It's so cool you can't believe it," said Beem after winning the Wanamaker Trophy with a 10-under-par total of 278 in only his fourth major championship appearance. He's the 12th first-time major winner in the last 15 years at the PGA.
Despite four straight closing birdies and a Sunday-best 5-under 67, Woods came up a stroke short of his quest to win his ninth major and third of 2002. All he gets is the first step in the one Jack Nicklaus record he doesn't want to break -- 19 major championship runner-up finishes.
Justin Leonard lost all of his three-stroke lead by the fourth hole and trailed both Beem and Woods by the turn.
The former British Open champ shot 5-over-77, the worst score of anyone in the top 42, to finish tied for fourth with Fred Funk (73) at 4-under 284.
"I didn't play well at all today," Leonard said.
Chris Riley shot 70 to finish alone in third place at 5-under 283.
The free-wheeling Beem simply stole the prize that most observers assumed would belong to either Leonard or Woods. He sipped his Pepto Bismol, controlled his nerves by tightening his stomach muscles all day, and surprised even himself.
"I've always been easy to forget," Beem said. "I'm not one of those guys that feel like they can win a major like Tiger or Phil (Mickelson) or some of those guys."
Despite never shooting on the high side of par, Beem talked all week about having no chance to win a major. Even after walking off the fourth green Sunday after a birdie to tie Leonard for the lead, Beem turned to CBS analyst David Feherty and said, "I've got no chance and you know it."
By the turn, however, the game was on with Tiger charging just a shot behind in the group ahead.
Momentum turned on the 597-yard, par-5 No. 11.
A bad drive led to a bad par by Woods, leaving the door open for Beem. Having not backed off all week, Beem flushed a 5-wood from 248 yards to 8 feet to set up an eagle that none of the other 453 golfers who came through in front of him all week had done.
"I just smoked it," said Beem, who needed a similar eagle to beat another hard-charging Steve Lowery at Continued from Page 1S
The International two weeks ago.
"It was a huge roar, so we assumed it was an eagle," said Woods, who confirmed it at the scoreboard at the next green.
Suddenly three back, Woods uncharacteristically faltered. He three-putted the 13th and bogeyed the 14th to drop six back with four to go. After he pulled his drive on the par-5 15th into the rough, the only person at Hazeltine who thought Woods' chance was about spent was Woods himself.
"I told (caddie) Stevie (Williams), 'If we birdie in we'll win the tournament. Let's just suck it up and get it done,"' Woods said.
He did birdie in, but it wasn't enough. When Beem escaped the hazard on the perilous 16th and rolled in a 30-footer for birdie, Woods' charge was rendered moot. When Woods sank his 6-footer for birdie on 18, it only punctuated his pride.
"I saw Rich's ball in the fairway and told myself to go ahead and make it anyway," Woods said of his final putt. "It probably won't really matter, but it matters to me. I'm a little frustrated I made those couple of mistakes but pretty jacked with the way I came in."
After safely three-putting the final green, just like Woods at the U.S. Open at Bethpage, Beem relaxed his stomach, threw up his hands and did a little dance before waving his wife, Sarah, over for a victory hug.
"I probably looked like a total idiot out there," he said. "But who cares? I won."
The winner giggled as he was congratulated later by Woods, who reserves his toughest battles for the PGA. Beating the most intimidating golfer on the planet under the most intimidating circumstances will be Beem's lasting memory.
"Tiger Woods is going to go down as the greatest player of all time, and it was really cool (to beat him)," said Beem. "I think just winning it, and doing it in the fashion that I did, speaks volumes to me."
He didn't vomit. He didn't back down. And when it was all over, Beem didn't have any idea how to explain what he'd done.
"It's almost indescribable," he said. "Just to win any tournament is unbelievable. I don't know when this is going to sink in. Right now I am so flabbergasted about this, I have no idea."
All he knows is he's come a long way since he won his first PGA Tour event at the Kemper Open in 1999 to inspire a national publication to write the headline: "Who in the world is Rich Beem?"
"Is there any way you guys can get me on the cover this time?" he said.
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