HAVEN, Wisconsin - For a guy who will spend the week talking instead of playing, Rich Beem looked pretty happy. Then again, he usually wears a smile.
Although the 2002 PGA champion has bounced back and forth the last few years on the PGA Tour's top 125 money list, with much of his struggles due to nagging injuries, Beem's glass is usually half full. Not that his cheery outlook hasn't been tested.
Shortly after the Masters this year, life became a pain in the neck. An MRI exam revealed a bulging disk between C6 and C7 and surgery was required. That's why he'll work as an analyst this week in the 92nd PGA Championship at Whistling Straits on PGA.Com's 3D and 2D broadcasts.
The chatty "Beemer" figures to be a hit in his announcing debut. But his heart will be on the course, where he hopes to celebrate his 40th birthday in two weeks by competing in the Nationwide Tour's Knoxville Sentinel Open. He plans to play another Nationwide Tour event after that, then plans to tee it up at the PGA Tour's Viking Classic next month.
"I feel good," said Beem, who has applied for a major medial exemption for 20011. "I can't wait to get back out there."
-- *Mark Soltau