Thomas Andrew Bean was an esteemed American professional golfer renowned for his notable accomplishments in the world of golf. He played in prestigious tournaments such as the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour, leaving behind a legacy of extraordinary achievements.
Amateur and Professional Triumphs
Bean was a force to be reckoned with, boasting a collection of victories both at the amateur and professional level. He celebrated 11 PGA Tour victories, with one of the most notable being the 1986 Byron Nelson Golf Classic. His prowess extended to the Champions Tour, where he clinched three wins, the most celebrated of which was his 9-stroke victory at the 2008 Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
Born in LaFayette, Georgia in 1953, Bean spent his formative years in Jekyll Island, Georgia. This was where his passion for golf was kindled, with his father being associated with a golf course in the area. Their family later relocated to Lakeland, Florida when he was a teenager. It was in Lakeland that his father took ownership of a golf course, further cementing Bean’s love for the sport.
Bean’s educational journey took him to the University of Florida situated in Gainesville, Florida. Here, he became a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity (Florida Upsilon Chapter) and showcased his golfing talents for coach Buster Bishop’s Florida Gators men’s golf team between 1972 to 1975. During his time as a student, he clinched victories in four amateur tournaments.
Bean, alongside fellow aspiring PGA Tour players like Woody Blackburn, Phil Hancock, and Gary Koch, was part of the formidable Gators’ 1973 team that secured victories in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and NCAA Championships. Recognized for his prowess, he was chosen as a first-team All-SEC in 1973 and 1975, and an All-American from 1973 to 1975. His academic pursuits culminated in a bachelor’s degree in marketing in 1975. Later, in 1978, he was honored with an induction into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a “Gator Great”.
After college, Bean transitioned to a professional golfing career in 1975. His skills and determination saw him consistently rank within the top 35 on the money list from 1977 to 1986. This period was marked by 5 top-seven finishes. He celebrated his first PGA Tour victory at the Doral-Eastern Open in 1977 and his last significant win at the Byron Nelson Golf Classic in 1986. The year 1978 was particularly fruitful for him, with three victories under his belt.
He proudly represented the United States in the Ryder Cup team in 1979 and 1987. Furthermore, he enjoyed a stint in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings in 1986 and 1987.
While Bean never clinched a major championship, he was a close contender, finishing second on three occasions. Memorable moments include his second-place finish behind the legendary Jack Nicklaus at the 1980 PGA Championship and his tie for second with Hale Irwin at the 1983 British Open, just a stroke behind Tom Watson.
Upon turning 50 in March 2003, Bean graced the Champions Tour. He secured his first win at the 2006 Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn and went on to win the Regions Charity Classic in May 2008. His most dominant victory came at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in 2008 in Sonoma, California, where he set a tournament record with a 20 under par total.
For his exceptional contributions to the sport, he was inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.
Personal Life and Passing
Away from the golf course, Bean was a resident of Lakeland, Florida. He cherished moments hunting and fishing. Together with his wife Debbie, they raised three daughters: Lauren, Lindsay, and Jordan.
Tragically, on October 14, 2023, Thomas Andrew Bean passed away in Lakeland due to complications arising from lung replacement surgery. He was 70 years old, leaving behind a legacy that will be remembered by golf enthusiasts worldwide.