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Beem may miss PGA defence for child's birth

Rich Beem is clear about what he will do. When his wife is ready to give birth, he puts the PGA Championship aside.

``There will be no decision-making,'' Beem said Monday. ``I've already made up my mind that I'll leave as soon as everything is ready to go.''

Beem won last year's major at Hazeltine. Rochester's Oak Hill Country Club will host the PGA Championship on Aug. 11-17.

He said his wife, Sara, is due Aug. 16, the day the third round of the tournament is scheduled. If the child is not born by then, Beem said he will wear a pager. If his wife goes into labor, he will join her at El Paso, Texas. He added that the couple plan to attempt to induce labor before the tournament.

``Fortunately, I can play in as many PGAs as I'd like to for the rest of my life,'' Beem said after playing a round during media day. ``But I'm not too sure how many more kids I'm going to have, so I'm definitely going to be home to watch the birth of my first child.''

Phil Mickelson's first daughter was born the day after he finished second to the late Payne Stewart in the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst. Mickelson carried a pager with him that week and said he would leave at any time if his wife went into labor.

Stewart, who died before getting a chance to defend his U.S. Open title, was the last winner of a major championship not to defend it.

``In this instance, I share Rich's excitement,'' said Jim Awtrey, PGA chief executive. ``I appreciate Rich's feelings. I think it's special and I think it's OK.''

Added PGA president M.G. Orender: ``We'd love to have Rich here, but we wish Rich and Sara both a healthy, happy baby.''

Beem was a surprise winner last year. He made up three strokes on final-round leader Justin Leonard and held off Tiger Woods. He won at 10-under-par 278, one better than Woods.

This year, Beem is 81st on the PGA money list. Of the 17 events in which he's competed, Beem has missed the cut eight times, including the U.S. Open. His best finish was a tie for 10th at the Nissan Open in February.

``I've always been labeled as a streaky player, which is fine by me,'' Beem said. ``I've also been labeled as a one-hit wonder, which is not OK with me. ... I am very streaky, but when I'm good, I'm very good.''

 

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