The PGA Championship

An Interview With: Shaun Micheel

Julius Mason: Shaun Micheel, ladies and gentlemen, atop the leaderboard at 4-under.

Shaun, if we could get some opening thoughts, we'll go through your card, birdies, bogeys, and we'll go to Q&A.

Shaun Micheel: Well, I've got to get the bogeys out of the way first. What a disappointing finish. For all of the birdies I made yesterday I was the complete opposite today.

I started out on No. 1, I missed the fairway. Kind of not a good way to start. Made the bogey there.

After the bogey on the first hole, it took me maybe a couple holes to settle down. I missed the fairway on the left side much like I did on No. 1 the first day, and that's obviously no good over there.

Made some nice tee balls coming down the stretch on the front. Made a lot of nice putts again. I felt like I was really rolling the ball, even much better than I did yesterday, just nice and smooth. Had nice lines, nice pace on my putts today.

I was fortunate on No. 10, really, to find myself in a position to have a shot at the green and made a par there.

Went up-and-down on 11 for par, the bunker, short-sided myself.

No. 12 was just a downhill, 15 -, 20-footer that I made. I just kept on going, kept the momentum going.

Got to No. 15, hit a 7-iron about, I guess it was probably about three, four feet.

Then 16, 17, 18 were just missed fairways. 16 was a missed fairway to the right and it was just a pitch out. I didn't hit a very good third shot. I had a pretty easy shot from about 60 yards.

17, I hit a tee shot, what I thought was right down the middle of the fairway. It just went through. That hole was playing a lot different than it has in the first three days. So I didn't have much there. Hit a poor bunker shot and made bogey.

18, Billy and I both missed the fairway to the right. Not much there. Actually, I hit my lay-up shot to the right number that I wanted but I was in a divot so it was kind of a fitting end. Then 18, that putt from ten feet, it was the only left-to-right putt I had all day, and every other putt was either straight or right-to-left, and obviously I missed to the right.

So not a good way to finish, but 69, it's an okay score. I probably would have taken that score before I teed off.

Julius Mason: Shaun would like to make a little trip to the practice range, folks, so we'll go fast.

Q: The fact that you're in the lead, you'll be playing with a guy you're familiar with, does that give you some sort of comfort level?

Shaun Micheel: It does. I felt very fortunate today to be paired with Billy. Not that playing with Mike would have been any different but I don't think Billy has won a major, either. So we are both out there kind of trying to feed off one another. We had some nice conversations out there. He was rooting me along. I kept making birdies. It was a pleasure to play with him today.

So, yeah, I look forward to playing with Chad tomorrow and hopefully it will be much like today.

Q: The question I asked you yesterday was, do you believe that you can be one of the illustrious new winners of a tournament this year? Now that I remind of you of that, let me ask you this: Is it your mindset that this tournament is yours to lose tomorrow?

Shaun Micheel: Yes, I can be one of those winners. As I said last night, I've played 170-some PGA TOUR events. This one is no different. This one is, at least in my mind -- I understand that there are some perks that go along with winning a major championship.

You know, I'm just trying to win a golf tournament, whether it's a major or a PGA TOUR event, that is paramount to me. I just want to win. I don't care where it is, what it is. I would be very honored to win this tournament. So that's going to be my goal tomorrow.

And like yesterday, I forgot the second part.

Q: You did well on 17 and 18 the first three days, and today you bogeyed, bogeyed; is that just a case of those two holes just coming back and biting you?

Shaun Micheel: Probably. I still have one more day tomorrow. But yeah, I've hit all those fairways. 17, I missed yesterday, but I said, it doesn't matter what hole it is. It doesn't matter if it's 17 or No. 1 or 2, if you miss the fairway on any hole, you're probably going to make bogey. It's just that simple.

I got off to a pretty good start after 1 and 2, driving the ball. Yeah, I was thinking about it.

16 was a very poor tee shot, just to the right. It's a short enough hole, actually, that if you miss that fairway, you can advance it towards the green but there was a tree in my way today so I wasn't able to do it. But probably, coming down tied for the lead, leading the tournament, there really were not any nerves there.

I've been hitting the driver well all week. There wasn't any reason why I wasn't going to on 18. I just didn't. Whether I missed the fairway by eight yards like I did or Billy Andrade misses by one yard, we were both laying up, and that's the difficulty of this championship, or any major championship. And it's consistent, so if you miss the fairway, doesn't matter whether you're Tiger Woods or Shaun Micheel or Billy Andrade or Chad Campbell, doesn't matter, you are probably going to have a poor lie and you are probably going to be pitching out.

It was a disappointing way to finish, but I don't think about it too much. I'll hit a few balls and try to correct what I think I was doing out there.

Q: Only fair to ask you the same question I asked him: What do you know about Chad and have you played much golf with him? And also, how are you going to spend the day tomorrow?

Shaun Micheel: Well, it's funny. Everybody thinks I'm Chad Campbell. It's unbelievable. I've had several people -- it was early in the year -- I don't even remember who it was -- someone came up to me and said, great playing at such and such a tournament. I just kind of said, okay. It didn't really dawn on me, but it's amazing how everybody thinks Chad and I look alike.

I think I'm a little bit lighter. At least that's what I claim in my bio. (Laughter.)

Q: What happened the last three holes, obviously, brings a lot of guys back to the field and now you are tied for the lead as opposed to having a two-stroke lead. Is there less pressure because you're in this situation and you're one of a bunch of guys who can win, as opposed to having a three-shot lead and having that heat on you maybe?

Shaun Micheel: Maybe. I didn't really think about it. I didn't look at the leaderboard one time today. Obviously bogeying the last three holes, I knew that wasn't good, and I think that brought a lot more people into the mix.

You know, it was just a poor way to end, really. But I don't think I'm going to feel any different. I'm just happy to still be tied for the lead. I still played smart. I missed the fairways, and even though I did bogey the last three holes, I still stuck to my guns. I didn't try to get aggressive and just try to force one up there, because there's still one more day. I don't want to blow it today. You can certainly do that. Bogeying the last three holes -- I made a lot of putts early in the round that hopefully off-set those. Making birdies around here is always important. So I'm not going to really dwell too much on that.

As far as being tied for the lead, maybe it is going to be a little bit easier. I don't feel like I have to hold on. I'm just going to try to go out and play and try to make as many birdies and try to shoot another score under par.

Q: From where you were on your third shot on 13, could you see what happened when it went to the back of the green and did you interact with the fan?

Shaun Micheel: I didn't. Maybe that's not my personality. Actually the rules official had already made it up there before I got there. I knew it was not going to be a good spot.

When I got up there, the rules official that was with our group was on his radio and I'm like, oh, this doesn't seem too good. When I saw the ball was not lying in too badly of a lie, with the pin in the front, I didn't feel too badly about it. But she said, I think, it hit her right in the crotch, I think is what she said. (Laughter.) I'm a married man.

But anyway, it was not a good shot. I had a very difficult third shot. Once again, putting is kind of what's kept me around. There's probably guys out there that have struck the ball a little bit better than I have. So really, where it ended up on that hole is a lot better than buried in that back bunker, which is where I thought it was going.

Q: When you've played this game as long as you have and struggled, is there clearly a low point along the way that you can recall, and is there an individual that you can point to that might have headed you the right direction?

Shaun Micheel: Well, probably my low point, I got my PGA TOUR card in 1994. I was maybe a year and a half out of college. I just really struggled. I think I made four cuts, four or five cuts the first year. I lost my card and went back and was playing the TC Jordan Tour which is now the Hooters Tour.

Not that I was ever going to give up the game, but I was working on so many different things. I just wondered if that one year out on TOUR out here was just a fluke.

Then I met Stephanie -- well, Stephanie and I have known each other since she was ten years old, but she stood by me. I'd say probably she is the one that kept me going. She was a soccer player at LSU, so she knows what it's like to be in competition, and that's certainly where I wanted to be.

It just was going to take me some time, I had some things to work on, not so much with my game but with my comfort level, playing in front of a lot of people. A few years ago if you had put me in this position, I probably would have shot 85.I just was so timid. I didn't like walking around the fairway. I felt comfortable inside the ropes, but I felt almost embarrassed if I hit it outside the ropes and I hit someone, like I did today. Probably would have ruined my day. I think that part, I've been able to get through.

I just kind of turned the corner on my own, really. I just worked on my game. I won the tournament in Singapore, and I think that tournament in Singapore in 1998 was probably what turned it for me.

Q: Can you see the advantage of playing with a guy like Chad, who is pretty much in the same position, as opposed to having to play on the last day of a major in the final group with a guy who has got a major or two under his belt?

Shaun Micheel: Yeah, I mean, I think my pairing tomorrow -- as I said earlier, is beneficial to me. It might be beneficial to Chad. Chad has played extremely well this year. I know he's been close to winning several times this year. Although I finished Top-10 three times, I haven't been any higher than probably eighth.

The pairing for me tomorrow I think is going to be great. I hope that we can both communicate with one another and that we both play well. I'm excited. Hopefully he's excited to play with me because I think we pretty much have the same type of game. We both hit the ball, I think, pretty straight. We both, I think, hit a lot of greens. You know, we are both out here trying to win a major championship, so it ought to be fun.

Q: With what you did on that lake ten years ago, how much coming out of that do you believe in your ability to function under the highest stress, pressure situation? Obviously that's a different kind of pressure there, but what did you learn about yourself, being able to function in a highly pressurized situation?

Shaun Micheel: You mean because of that?

Q: Coming out of that, what you did that day and maybe how you carried that with you the rest of your life?

Shaun Micheel: Yeah, I wish that had some bearing on how I played golf, because if it did, then I would probably play well every week.

I think about it a lot. I get asked about it a lot, so it's always on my mind. But the pressure that I feel, pulling someone out of the water is totally different. I mean, I felt sick this morning. I couldn't eat before I teed off. Teeing off at 3:05, I sat around and I didn't have much to do. I wish I felt a little bit more at ease.

What I did in that lake seemed a lot easier than what I have to go through out here because I'm battling myself. That's probably the hardest part anybody can do is to try to battle themselves. The mind can be a terrible thing sometimes. The less you can think, the better off you are. That's kind of what my dad usually says: "Keep it simple, stupid."

Julius Mason: Clubs you hit on your birdies and bogeys, if you can just go through that, please.

Shaun Micheel: No. 1 was a 3-wood to the left rough. Pitched out. I think I had sand wedge in.

7 was a 4-wood down the fairway. I hit a 5-iron about 12 feet or so, straight down the hill.

8 was a driver off the tee. It was playing downwind, so I hit L-wedge in there, probably eight feet.

9, again, another driver off the tee. I think I had a 9-iron from about 145 yards.

12 was a 4-iron off the tee. Really, that's all you need with that wind being down and that left me with about 125 yards. I hit it, I would say 15 feet, straight down the hill.

15 was a stock 7-iron about three or four feet.

Then 16 was a pitch out with a driver out of the right rough there. I think I had 60 yards to the pin for my third shot.

17 was fortunate. I hit driver through the fairway. I was able to get enough club on it to at least get it near the green and failed to get my bunker shot up-and-down.

18 was another pitch out. I think I had 88 yards and that was an L-wedge. I had a lie that was kind of a divot but just missed the putt. First putt that I had left-to-right all day and I didn't make it.

Julius Mason: Thanks for coming down, Shaun.

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