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Playoffs have been a big boon for Beem

NORTON -- For all the moaning and groaning some have made about the first playoffs on the PGA Tour, Rich Beem is one who can vouch for the positive aspects.

Yes, he agrees that tweaks can and will be made to the FedEx Cup points system, but the onetime PGA Championship winner doesn't have a lot of complaints -- even as he faces a mountain of a challenge this week. To get into next week's third playoff event, the BMW Championship, Beem knows "anywhere between first and second and I'll be all right."

He laughed, but he was on target. To move into the top 70, he cannot finish any worse than second. A tough task, for sure, but he can blame only himself for being in such a corner.

"I should have played better at the beginning of the year. I should have played well during the middle of the year," said Beem.

Last week, Beem showed that surges can be made in the playoffs. He finished tied for seventh at the Barclays and jumped from 134th to 113th in the standings, a clutch performance because from the 144 who qualified for the playoffs, only the top 120 earned a ticket to this week's Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston.

Even if he were to finish outside the top 70, Beem has no issues. In fact, he sees a positive aspect to the playoffs. He was, after all, 132d on the money list after the Wyndham Championship Aug. 19 and that was not a good spot since he is in the last year of being fully exempt from his 2002 PGA win. Making the playoffs, however, enabled him to play at the Barclays and that led to a spot here. When he made $225,750 last weekend, Beem pushed to 109th on the money list, virtually assuring that he'll keep his card for 2008. He can add to that comfort this week, so even if he doesn't advance, he's got money-list breathing room and won't feel pressured to get into a bunch fall tournaments.

Which sort of validates the playoff concept?

"Absolutely," said Beem. "For some guys, making [the playoffs] is the first goal. There are a lot of friends of mine who didn't make it even to the first one. Even if I finish fifth in this event and just miss out going to Chicago, it's still an accomplishment. At least I got the opportunity."

Maine connections
This wasn't a case of mixing politics and golf. No, sir. When they make their trips to Cape Arundel in Kennebunkport, Maine -- as they almost annually do -- it's all about golf for Phil Mickelson, Davis Love, and Justin Leonard. Even when their host is former president George Bush. The trio of PGA Tour stars were guests of the Bush family for the last two days, though Love and Leonard were back at work yesterday at TPC Boston. Mickelson will get his first look at the course when he plays this morning at 8 in the pro-am. Official scores haven't been reported, but it doesn't appear as if any of the three improved upon the course-record 60 that Mickelson shot at Arundel last October.

Icon checks in
In some ways, Jack Nicklaus had to feel like he was back home in West Palm Beach, Fla. To get to TPC Boston, he had to sit through traffic on Interstate 95. After apologizing for being late, the 67-year-old icon held court on a variety of topics, though mostly it was related to the Presidents Cup (Sept. 27-30). "On paper, I think that the [International] team is a little stronger, but that's why you play the matches," said Nicklaus, who is here to drum up interest in the international team competition at Royal Montreal, to meet with members of his team, and to help promote a new book on his life, "Jack Nicklaus: Simply The Best" by Martin Davis. Nicklaus reiterated he'll make the competition as lighthearted as possible, feeling it necessary to let his players have fun. That means allowing them to write down the names of players with whom they'd like to play. Immediately, thoughts turned to Mickelson and Tiger Woods, the behemoths who were put together and lost twice at the 2004 Ryder Cup. Nicklaus smiled. "The two of them did not have their names on the piece of paper to play together," he said.

Good cause
Staff players for Callaway -- Mickelson and Charles Howell among them -- will be easily spotted, if you look for their golf bags. They'll be teal blue as a way of paying respect to what has been designated as Ovarian Cancer Month . . . Connecticut native Marc Giammatteo was officially awarded an honorary membership to TPC Boston during an evening ceremony that included PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. The PGA Tour has an ongoing support network with the US military and each TPC facility is committed to giving honorary memberships to veterans. Giammatteo was severely injured in 2003 in Iraq . . . For visitors to the practice range, a curious sight has been a pair of large nets. They are part of the SeeSwing Mobile Recording Units and players are able to analyze their golf swings inside of them. During the championship they will be set up at the entrances and exits so that patrons can test them out . . . Famed long-ball specialist Art Sellinger put on a clinic for youngsters at the practice range.

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