Grand Slam of Golf
Micheel

Shaun Micheel

Winner: PGA Championship | August 14-17, 2003 | Oak Hill Country Club | Rochester, New York

By Sal Maiorana, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

It was nearly an hour after Shaun Micheel had hit the shot of his life, perhaps the shot of the 2003 golf season, certainly the shot that secured his unlikely triumph in the 85th PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club, and the magnitude of it all hadn't yet registered. So it was no surprise that as Micheel stared out at the horde of reporters inquiring how in the name of Ben Curtis he had hit a 7-iron at the 72nd hole to within two inches of the cup, thus slamming the door on persistent Chad Campbell, he seemed a bit flabbergasted. "I can't really believe that this happened to me," said the 34-year-old from Memphis as he stole a glance at the elegant Wanamaker Trophy glistening under the spotlights right next to him. Neither could anyone else in that interview room, or any of the more than 35,000 spectators who roared their approval at Oak Hill, or the millions who were watching the CBS Sports broadcast. Shaun Micheel - that's muh-KEEL - won the PGA Championship?

Then again, shouldn't we all have been used to this by the time The PGA Championship was contested in the suburbs of Rochester, N.Y. on a historic old course that humbled the best players in the world? Just a month earlier Curtis, another nondescript non-winner on the PGA Tour who was ranked 396th in the world, shocked golfdom when he won the British Open at Royal St. George's. And now here was another ultimate longshot hitting the jackpot. Hey, who's writing these scripts, Kevin Costner?

Well, with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, U.S. Open Champion Jim Furyk, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Kenny Perry and eventually Masters Champion Mike Weir getting swallowed by Oak Hill's gnarly rough, somebody had to win. Micheel was that man, and he deserved it. His gritty final-round even-par 70 gave him a 4-under total of 276, two strokes clear of Campbell (72-278), and made it a clean sweep for first-time winners in the majors, the first time that had happened since 1969, the year Micheel was born. Of course that meant Woods did not win a major in 2003, his first major-less year since 1998. Further, his 12-over 292 was his worst score in relation to par at a major as a professional, and it was only the third time he was over par in all four rounds. He called Oak Hill the toughest, fairest course he'd ever played, but he was happy when his miserable week was finished. "It was a tough week," he said. "I fought hard just to shoot bad."

Like Curtis prior to the British, odds are you couldn't get odds on Micheel when The PGA Championship began. In fact, Micheel, who came to Oak Hill ranked 169th in the world and winless in 163 PGA Tour starts, admitted he wouldn't have dropped a dime on himself. I showed up here Tuesday to play a practice round and saw how difficult this golf course was, I was just trying to make the cut," he said. "That was my main goal, and I probably would have been happy with that." By Friday night - thanks to four birdies in his closing five second-round holes - Micheel was altering his expectations just a bit as he sat atop the leaderboard daring to dream that he could win.

On Saturday Micheel advanced all the way to 7-under and had a four-shot lead before bogeying the final three holes which dropped him into a tie with Campbell, the player Sports Illustrated dubbed "The Next Big Thing." Campbell fashioned the best round of the week that day, a 65, to earn a spot next to Micheel in the final pairing for Sunday. Among the Player of the Year candidates, only Weir had a chance to catch Micheel and Campbell on Sunday as he was within three shots of their lead however bogeys on his first five holes derailed Weir's bid to win a second major. And after beating back the mid-round challenges of South Africa's Tim Clark and Czechoslo-vakia's Alex Cejka, it was left for Micheel and Campbell to decide the Championship.

Micheel started well with a birdie at No. 1, but by the time he made the turn after bogeys at Nos. 7 and 8, he was wobbling at 3-under for the tournament and was tied for the lead with Clark who went 3-under on the front side. Campbell played the first nine in 3-over, but when Clark began to fade, Campbell regrouped and regained the drafting position behind Micheel with a birdie at the par-5 13th setting up a frenetic dash to the wire.

Micheel enjoyed a two-shot swing at the short par-4 14th when he drove the green and two-putted for birdie while Campbell bogeyed, but he gave those back at the par-3 15th when he three-putted for bogey and Campbell drained a 25-foot roller coaster of a putt for birdie.

Micheel answered with a 30-foot birdie at 16 after a strong wedge out of the cabbage to the right of the fairway, but then he missed another drive at 17 and settled for a bogey, cutting his lead back to one as they strode to the home hole. Here, the golf gods re-paid Micheel for all the struggles he had endured in 11 years on the pro tours.

He pulled his drive at 18, but when it landed it thumped into a mound on the edge of the fairway. Instead of bounding into the primary rough, the ball squirted right and stopped in the barely penal first cut. "From what it looked like from the tee, it got a pretty nice bounce," said Micheel. "The ball was sitting up, and it was an absolutely perfect number (his yardage of 175 for his 7-iron)." And then he struck an absolutely perfect shot.

"When that ball was in the air, all I was asking for was just to carry to the front of the green," Micheel said. As usual, the golf ball did not listen, but this was a good thing because it didn't just carry the front edge, it hopped back to the pin and stopped a mere two inches from the hole. The ball was majestic in flight against the backdrop of the jam-packed grandstands, that nearly collapsed in excitement when the ball nearly rolled in for a Tin Cup finish. "That would probably be the best shot I've seen under pressure," said Campbell, who hit a pretty good one himself at 18 and settled for a par to secure a solo runner-up finish. CBS Sports dubbed this PGA Championship "Glory's Last Shot" because this was the last major championship of the 2003 season, the last shot at glory. It wasn't quite the last shot struck at Oak Hill, but Micheel's near hole-out couldn't have been more glorious.

"It's kind of scary, really," he said with a look of honest-to-goodness awe on his face. "I was trying to win the B.C. Open a year ago at this time (he blew a three-shot lead on the final day and lost). "Even up until maybe a month or two ago I was trying to keep my card. To have my name on that trophy, I don't know what I'm thinking right now. "I look down that list right there (on the trophy) and see all the names and I just hope that maybe I can produce a career like a lot of those guys have."

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP SCOREBOARD
1 Shaun Micheel 69-68-69-70-276 4-under
2 Chad Campbell 69-72-65-72-278 2-under
3 Tim Clark 72-70-68-69-279 1-under
4 Alex Cejka 74-69-68-69-280 even
T5 Jay Haas 70-74-69-69-282 2-over
  Ernie Els 71-70-70-71-282  
T7 Fred Funk 69-73-70-72-284 4-over
  Loren Roberts 70-73-70-71-284  
  Mike Weir 68-71-70-75-284  
T10 Niclas Fasth 76-70-71-68-285 5-over
  Kenny Perry 75-72-70-68-285  
  Charles Howell III 70-72-70-73-285  
  Billy Andrade 67-72-72-74-285  
T14 Robert Gamez 70-73-70-73-286 6-over
  Scott McCarron 74-70-71-71-286  
  Tim Herron 69-72-74-71-286  
  Rod Pampling 66-74-73-73-286  
T18 Carlos Franco 73-73-69-72-287 7-over
  Jim Furyk 72-74-69-72-287  
  Rocco Mediate 72-74-71-70-287  
  Kevin Sutherland 69-74-71-73-287  
  Toshimitsu Izawa 71-72-71-73-287  
T23 Phil Mickelson 66-75-72-75-288 8-over
  Adam Scott 72-69-72-75-288  
  Luke Donald 73-72-71-72-288  
  Stuart Appleby 74-73-71-70-288  
T27 Woody Austin 72-73-69-75-289 9-over
  Geoff Ogilvy 71-71-77-70-289  
T29 Frank Lickliter 71-72-71-76-290 10-over
  Peter Lonard 74-74-69-73-290  
  Todd Hamilton 70-74-73-73-290  
  David Toms 75-72-71-72-290  
  Padraig Harrington 72-76-69-73-290  
T34 Vijay Singh 69-73-70-79-291 11-over
  J.L. Lewis 71-75-71-74-291  
  Jesper Parnevik 73-72-72-74-291  
  Fred Couples 74-71-72-74-291  
  Lee Janzen 68-74-72-77-291  
T39 Briny Baird 73-71-67-81-292 12-over
  Hal Sutton 75-71-67-79-292  
  Tiger Woods 74-72-73-73-292  
  Robert Allenby 70-77-73-72-292  
  Mark Calcavecchia 73-71-76-72-292  
  Joe Durant 71-76-75-70-292  
T45 Tom Pernice 70-71-72-80-293 13-over
  Duffy Waldorf 70-75-72-76-293  
  Angel Cabrera 71-76-72-74-293  
T48 Shigeki Maruyama 75-72-73-74-294 14-over
  Ben Crane 73-73-76-72-294  
  Trevor Immelman 74-70-77-73-294  
T51 Len Mattiace 74-70-75-76-295 15-over
  José Maria Olazábal 74-74-76-71-295  
  Brian Gay 74-74-75-72-295  
  Jose Coceres 73-68-78-76-295  
  Gary Evans 74-74-71-76-295  
56 Chris DiMarco 74-71-78-73-296 16-over
T57 Aaron Baddeley 69-77-73-78-297 17-over
  Bob Estes 71-76-73-77-297  
  Scott Hoch 75-72-73-77-297  
  Bernhard Langer 75-72-75-75-297  
T61 Ian Poulter 72-75-72-79-298 18-over
  Phil Tataurangi 72-71-78-77-298  
  Eduardo Romero 77-71-76-74-298  
  Billy Mayfair 76-72-78-72-298  
  Jonathan Kaye 74-73-72-79-298  
66 Paul Casey 79-69-75-76-299 19-over
67 Bob Burns 72-76-70-82-300 20-over
68 Rory Sabbatini 71-75-75-81-302 22-over
T69 K.J. Choi 74-74-80-76-304 24-over
  Michael Campbell 74-71-80-79-304  
Related
2003 PGA Championship multimedia site -- Tournament video highlights, end of round interviews, and more.
Other Items
  • 20 questions (12/1/03) — When was the last time Masters champion Mike Weir paid for a golf ball? Or what's Jim Furyk's favorite golf hole, Ben Curtis' dream foursome, or Shaun Micheel's favorite club? Find out in our exclusive 20 Questions with this year's PGA Grand Slam participants and caddies.
  • Scaling golf's major mountains (12/1/03) — Four times a year golf's best gather to try and climb that final rung to greatness on the ladder that will define their career. Jim Huber, Turner Sports' Emmy Award-winning essayist, examines what separates a major champion from the rest.
  • Left alone to flourish (12/1/03) — When Mike Weir was a promising junior in his native Canada, he wrote a letter to the great Jack Nicklaus asking if a young left-hander should try to learn the game right-handed. The Golden Bear wrote back, and the advice he offered made Weir a Masters champion.
  • Furyk finds home in Hawaii (12/1/03) — Considering the career success he's enjoyed in Hawaii -- two wins and nearly $2 million in winnings since he joined the PGA Tour in 1994 -- it should come as no surprise that U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk and his wife built a second home on the island of Maui.

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