Beach Starts 3 Behind, Wins Assistant Club Pro Title by 3
November 17, 2019
PORT SAINT LUCIE, Fla. -- Alex Beach added another chapter to his improbable story of success as a tournament golfer on Sunday. Starting the final round in the National PGA Club Pro Championship three strokes behind the leader, he wasted no time in wiping out the deficit. The 29-year-old former Stillwater High School captain -- who never played college golf -- birdied the first three holes at the PGA Golf Club's Wanamaker Course and went on from there to shoot a 5-under-par 67. It was the best score of the day (only one other player broke 70), and the result was a three-stroke victory.
His winning total was 280 (8 under), and it was worth $12,000.
Carlos Sainz, a former PGA Tour player from Houston, was tied with Beach at the start of the day. He shot 70 and finished second at 283. That was three better than the third-place totals of Scott Berliner and Timothy Wiseman. Berliner was the one other player to break 70; he closed with a 68. Wiseman shot 71.
Colin Van Es shot 77 and ended up alone in fourth place with an aggregate of 288.
Matt Rachey, the new assistant coach for the University of Minnesota golf team, got off to a shaky start and ended his round with a triple bogey at the 18th hole. The result was a 78, which dropped him from fourth place into a tie for ninth at 290. He made $2,860.
Also in the tie at 290 was Colin Inglis, who led the tournament after 54 holes but could do no better than 80 in the final round. Caleb Wittig, who was tied with Van Es for second when the day began, also struggled. He shot 78 and tied for sixth with a 289. Eight of the top 21 finishers shot 76 or higher on Sunday, which is an indication of how difficult the Wanamaker Course was.
This is the second national championship for Beach this year. He won the National PGA Club Pro Championship in May. He is only the fourth player to win both titles -- before him, the last to do it was Tim Thelen, who grew up in Albany, Minn., but was an assistant pro in Texas for more than 25 years and has been on the European Senior Tour for the last eight years -- and Beach is the only one ever to win both titles in the same year.
What's more, he is also on the verge of earning a place on the Korn Ferry Tour next year. His victory at the Club Pro Championship earned him an exemption through the Pre-Qualifying and First Stage of Korn Ferry Q-School. That got him into the Second Stage, which was played earlier this month. The top 20 finishers and ties from each of five sites where qualifiers were played advanced to the Final Stage, and Beach made it pretty easily. He finished sixth at Plantation Preserve in Plantation, Fla.
Everyone who gets to the Final Stage will have at least some status on the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour.
Virtually everyone who wins National Club Pro or National Assistant Club Pro titles, or who plays in Q-Schools, has fairly similar credentials -- former high school star and then one of the best players on his college team, someone who has dreamed of playing on the PGA Tour since he was 7 or 8 years old.
But not Beach.
When he was in high school, he wasn't even clearly the No. 1 player on the Stillwater team. He and Kyle Scanlon were 1 and 2, in either order. When he was a senior, in 2007, the Ponies won their section championship, and Beach was the hero. He birdied three of his last four holes that day, and that was what secured the victory. But after a first-round 75 at the state tournament, he came back with 87 in the second and tied for 58th place.
College recruiters did not flock to sign him up.
John Scanlon, the Stillwater coach (and Kyle Scanlon's father), remembers Beach as a small, skinny kid with a great short game and a love of competition. He was athletic, but not necessarily all that gung-ho about golf.
Beach enrolled at Nebraska in the Professional Golf Management Program, but he never bothered to even try out for the Huskers golf team. (Meanwhile, Kyle Scanlon was playing golf on a scholarship at South Dakota.) He graduated in 2011 and began working as an assistant pro on the East Coast. That was when he began to notice that being a really good tournament player was a major asset in the golf business, and at that point he decided that a really good tournament player was exactly what he wanted to be.
Once again, however, Beach did things his way. The standard method for becoming an elite tournament golfer is to find a big-name teaching pro and start taking lessons. Instead, Beach went about the business of building his game by himself.
"He did it more with work ethic and talent than by visiting the best teaching instructors," Scanlon noted. "He did it on his own."
It helped that Beach got substantially bigger after high school. Even when he was little, he could hit a golf ball a long way, Scanlon said, "and now that he's buffed up, he can really bomb it."
On Sunday, the long-hitting left-hander put his length to good use right way, as he birdied the 535-yard, par-5 first hole and the long (463 yards) par-4 second hole. He made it three in a row with a birdie at the 417-yard, par-4 third. Beach added birdie at the 180-yard, par-3 sixth and made the turn in 32 (4 under). The only blemish on his card was a bogey at the 10th (365 yards, par 4). But he was leading the tournament by then, and after that, it was all pars except for birdies on the two back-nine par-5's, the No. 13 (551 yards) and No. 16 (507).
The tournament victories aren't the only impressive thing on Beach's resume. He's worked at some prestigious courses, including Baltusrol, the site of numerous U.S. Opens. For the last couple of years, he's been at Westchester Country Club, which was a reguar stop on the PGA Tour for four decades.
Beach gives the members at Westchester some of the credit for his burgeoning success as a tournament golfer.
"I don't have kids," he said in an interview this summer. "I've never really before had the ultimate flexibility to practice and play. I'm now in that situation at Westchester where they really support me to play and practice. I made time, and I simplified my game; so I could work all week and still go out and play competitively. It's been a lifetime of little things that culminated in where we are now."
43rd Assistant PGA Professional Championship
At PGA Golf Club
Par 72, 7,104 yards
Port Saint Lucie, Fla.
1. Alex Beach, Harrison, N.Y. $12,000 69-70-74-67--280
2. Carlos Sainz, Houston, Texas $9,400 71-72-70-70--283
T3. Scott Berliner, Albany, N.Y. $6,800 72-74-72-68--286
T3. Timothy Wiseman, Corydon, Ore. $6,800 73-72-70-71--286
5. Colin Van Es, Davenport, Fla. $5,400 69-71-71-77--288
T6. Caleb Wittig, Zanesville, Ohio $4,208 75-67-69-78--289
T6. K.C. Lim, San Antonio, Texas $4,208 71-73-73-72--289
T6. Tim Ritter, Centreville, Va. $4,208 72-68-77-72--289
T9. Matt Rachey, St. Paul $2,860 68-71-73-78--290
T9. Colin Inglis, Eugene, Ore. $2,860 70-71-69-80--290
T9. Jim Troy, Mt. Vernon, Ohio $2,860 73-73-72-72--290
T9. Liam Kendregan, Seattle $2,860 73-71-72-74--290
T9. Pat Steffes, San Mateo, Calif. $2,860 69-71-74-76--290
T15. Thomas Campbell, Mpls. $1,939 72-75-72-73--292
T24. Derek Holmes, White Bear $1,380 70-73-74-77--294
Missed cut (151)
Bennett Smed, Brainerd 75-81--156