Dick's Sporting Goods Open

Cameron Beckman, with an assist from his sister, delivers the unlikeliest of victories over a Hall of Famer


Hunter Martin

Upsets come with varying degrees of surprise, but this one from Cameron Beckman in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open on Sunday seemed closer to impossible than improbable, a slumping journeyman knocking out a World Golf Hall of Famer.

Beckman, 51, playing without full-time status on the PGA Tour Champions and mired in a slump, birdied the first five holes of the back nine at En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, N.Y., then hung on to defeat probably the best player on the senior tour, Ernie Els, by a stroke.

“My life is so good right now,” Beckman said after a tap-in bogey at 18 gave him his first victory in 4,151 days, since he won the PGA Tour’s Mayakoba Golf Classic at Riviera Maya-Cancun in 2010. “I’ve got so much good stuff going on in my life. This just adds to it. I’ve had a bad kind of run in 2021 and kind of got focused with my sister [Tiffany Mattick] and she really got me going. She’s a mental coach. I needed some help. This just feels great. I had so much fun. Getting to play with Ernie and Darren [Clarke]. It was a blast.

"I spent a lot of time with my sister talking this week. And I haven't been playing that great. So today I thought it was a great opportunity to really loosen up and play, and see if I could really kind of play like I'm capable of. That's kind of what I did, and that's why I'm standing here kissing that trophy."

Beckman did not get his first 2021 start until May, a tie for 20th in the Insperity Invitational. In his next seven starts, he never finished better than a tie for 42nd and in four of them finished tied for 60th or worse.To compound the unlikelihood of his winning on Sunday, he started the final round three strokes back of Els and started the back nine still three strokes down. Then he made those five straight birdies, while Els was playing the same holes in two-over, a seven-stroke swing between the pair.

Beckman limped home from there, with two bogeys on his final four holes, including at the 18th when he hit his tee shot into the water, while Els played the final four in one-under. Beckman shot a four-under par 68 to finish 54 holes in 12-under par 204, while Els shot an even-par 72 for a 205 total.

“It's going to sting a bit,” Els said. “I think I might need to have a couple of beers tonight. But at least my game is there. I've had two good weeks. Today I should have won, but Cameron played a great round of golf. He kept it together when he needed to.”

The victory gives Beckman, who won three times on the PGA Tour, a full exemption on the senior tour through the remainder of this year and in 2022. Moreover, he now qualifies to play in the U.S. Senior Open that starts Thursday at Omaha Country Club in Omaha, Neb