Hong Kong – Former major winner Rich Beem admitted on Wednesday he was “bummed out” at missing the chance to play in the Hong Kong Open after he gave his place to Ian Poulter, allowing the Englishman to keep alive his Ryder Cup hopes.
The unusual last-minute request for Beem, who now plays part time, to drop out of the event was made after Poulter was suddenly pushed out of the world top 50 and saw his European Tour membership put in jeopardy.
Poulter dropped to number 51 after Andy Sullivan and Emiliano Grillo both won tournaments last week, meaning he was ineligible for the WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai in China and would have fallen one short of competing in the necessary 13 events to retain his European Tour membership.
Any player wishing to play for Europe in the Ryder Cup must retain European Tour membership and so European Tour officials asked Beem to step aside.
“Am I bummed out I’m not playing this week? Absolutely. I came over to play and compete on this golf course and I really enjoy it,” he told AFP.
“But extraordinary circumstances came up and I’d like to believe I did what any other professional would do in similar circumstances.”
However, despite missing out on playing in Hong Kong, he insisted it was not a “hard decision” to stand aside for Poulter.
Beem, the 2002 PGA Champion winner, will now concentrate on reporting for Sky Sports on the tournament and said he wished Poulter well.
“If he goes out and cranks up four wins in four weeks he better send me a nice Christmas gift!” the American joked.
“The only true favour I ask is he misses a few putts in the Ryder Cup. But here, I hope he goes out and plays well.”
Poulter played a key role in Europe’s come-from-behind 2012 Ryder Cup triumph at Medinah and is renowned as a passionate participant in the biennial tournament.
He has not ended the year out of the top 50 since 2005.
Beem added the last-minute reprieve may help motivate Poulter, whose world ranking has deteriorated dramatically over the year.
“Sometimes it takes something out of the blue to change your outlook. You can’t take anything for granted – this game never gives you anything,” he said.
“I’ve never heard of a situation like this even remotely happening, and I’ve seen a lot of different things in this game.”
Beem, 45, who insisted he would have been competitive against younger rivals over the four days, tipped fellow American Patrick Reed, currently ranked 20 in the world, to triumph at the Hong Kong Open.
“He’s got all the tools to go around a golf course like this and win,” Beem said.