Not everyone in the Alex Beach family will be in attendance this week in Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla., to watch the Stillwater native compete at this week’s PGA Championship. Turns out, it was their pre-scheduled cabin-opening weekend.
This confirms two things: Number 1, the beach is actually Minnesotan. And, number 2, that this major championship is far from his first trip around the block.
In fact, when he takes the first round at 2:31 p.m. Thursday, Beach will be competing in his fifth PGA Championship in the past six years. By finishing in the top 20 of the PGA Professional Championship, he has entered this particular golf major championship the same way every time. Doing so this year has not been without drama.
In the final round of last month’s Club Pro Championship, Beach thought he needed to finish at 1 under par to secure entry to another PGA Championship for the 72-hole event. But he came out on par in the clubhouse. Due to this it took more than two hours to play the waiting game. By the time everyone was in, Beach and three others were in 18th place—meaning a sudden-death playoff would be held to see three of the four golfers punch their tickets to the PGA Championship.
And, on the first playoff hole, Beach suffered a birdie chip off the green.
He drained it, securing another major championship tee time in the process. The clip – which Beach says he has now watched more than 100 times – shows the 32-year-old carefully watching the ball roll, then somewhat carelessly down a finger as the birdie drops into the cup.
That’s how you do it!
— PGA of America (@PGA) April 20, 2022
“I didn’t really celebrate much. I was in the area on the task at hand,” Beach said. “When it went into, honestly, it was like blackout mode. My short game is great, but I had some sort of weird vibe during that tournament, and for something to end dramatically, I think it’s fair.
It wasn’t until he was walking through the green with his caddy that Beach smiled and the reality of accomplishment began to sink in. Beach was the first word used to describe that playoff: “stressful.”
“Very happy and thrilled, lucky to get through this. I didn’t have my best stuff in Texas (in the tournament), really had to grind it out and was lucky enough to finish high enough to get to the playoffs , and then was very lucky to chip in and consolidate his spot,” he said. “Yeah, that was wild.”
Frankly, still making his fifth PGA Championship appearance in six years. The assistant professional at Westchester Country Club in Rye, NY, is nearly as permanent in the premier event as the sport’s top names.
“So in some ways it’s like, ‘Mark this on your calendar,’ but at the same time it’s the opposite,” said Beach, a 2007 Stillwater Area High School grad. “It’s very difficult for me and 20 guys to get here. But now showing up to this week, I’m very comfortable. I know a lot of players. I’ve been lucky enough to play with a lot of them many times now And I know how the week works, and I’ve always said that the hardest thing for someone like me here is to be comfortable and feel like I am. In some small form now I feel like I have He has earned, mainly for himself, not from anyone else.”
The goals in between entering this week are the same as ever — to play well. He knows he is good enough to compete at this level. He would love to make the 36-hole cut, something he hasn’t done in his last four attempts.
“Hopefully, in a couple of days,” he said, “we can change that.”
That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been close. He was just a few shots off the number in 2020, and was inside the cut line in the second round last year, before suffering a back injury that derailed his round.
He said scores don’t always reflect how close he has been. Beach believes that Southern Hills, which places a premium on distance and works around greens, fits her game “really well.” He is addicted to Midwest golf and championship golf. This setup checks both of those boxes. He said the many holes please the eye of the lefty’s severed T. Perhaps all the factors working in his favor will lead to a special week.
Beach puts the pressure on himself to be successful, but there’s a lot more to him than just his tournament performance this week.
“The support I have is really humbling, and it’s so much fun to share this experience with others, and that’s what makes it special for me,” he said. “True funny things happen on the course. (Tuesday,) signing autographs for some young kids and having some laughs with them. That’s where it’s really special. For someone like me, it’s my week at the moment— Not a week-to-week job – as much as I’d love for it to be a day. So yeah, I’m going to try my best, but it’s been an incredible week.”
Out of 20 club pros, his fifth PGA Championship appearance in the middle puts him with Ryan Vermeer for the majority of the group. He has known many people through his experiences, including countless PGA Tour players. He is among those influenced by the stories of PGA Club pros.
“They’re kind of rooted in us as well. That’s enough everybody. We’re the real underdog story,” Beach said. “We get to share what it’s like to play in an All-Star Game, Which is much more than the PGA Championship. And to hold ourselves, it validates what we love to do and why we work hard. ,
Beach’s advice to this week’s PGA professional novices is simple: Savor the experience.
“Play well, play bad, you earned the right to be here, you earned the right to smile, and you earned the right to enjoy this week, because you’re going to watch it with incredible memories,” he said. “And hopefully it’s one of many / But you’re never guaranteed much, so enjoy the walk.”