2002 PGA Champion Rich Beem raises money for coronavirus relief fund with birdies and eagles

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Rich Beem is in a reflective mood — it was 18 years ago he stunned the golf world by winning the PGA Championship in Minneapolis.

This week, Beem is helping out fellow golf professionals by playing 54 holes to raise money for the Golf Emergency Relief Fund at the UT Golf Club in Austin.

Spearheaded by a multi-million dollar pledge from the PGA of America, the relief fund aims to help workers in the golf industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are a lot of golf courses out there who will be struggling, some will be shut down unfortunately,” Beem said. “If I can give back in any small way, even if I can just help out one professional that would be great.”

Beem will donate $50 for every birdie and $100 for every eagle that he can make during the three rounds at the Longhorns’ home golf course.

Beem says he’s encouraged by other people contacting him wanting to do their part to help, as well.

“Thankfully, I’ve got friends and family who are also going to donate as well to this cause, hopefully I can make a bunch of birdies and eagles to raise a little bit of money.”

When it comes to his magical PGA Championship victory from 18 years ago, Beem says he can’t believe some of the places that one victory has been able to take him.

“I was still very much an underdog and unknown,” Beem notes. “To go out there and perform well on a great golf course…and to take down Tiger Woods who was by far the world No. 1 was simply incredible.”

The Golf Emergency Relief Fund raised over $4 million for 3,000 applicants during phase one of the relief efforts. Phase two applications are expected to begin on May 27, according to the website.

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