Three years later, Micheel is back on the leader board

Shaun Micheel points to a change in his mindset for his improved play this week. (Photo: Getty Images)
Shaun Micheel points to a change in his mindset for his improved play this week. (Photo: Getty Images)

Since his breakthrough victory in the 2003 PGA Championship, Shaun Micheel has remained in the shadows and without another win. But after a change in attitude and on a course he loves, Micheel has re-emerged as a big-time player.

By T.J. Auclair, Junior Editor

MEDINAH, Ill. -- Since becoming the unlikely winner of the 2003 PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y. -- his only win on the PGA Tour -- Shaun Micheel has gone into relative obscurity.

Of course, his win was no fluke, as he put an exclamation point on his biggest accomplishment in the game by deftly hitting a perfect 7-iron approach to the final hole within inches of the cup for a tap-in birdie to knock off Chad Campbell by two shots.

In a sense, it was better that the ball didn't drop in for eagle, as many would have accused Micheel of just being lucky. Sure, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good, but in this instance Micheel looked like a meticulous genius.

Allegedly, winning a major changes a player's life. While Micheel most certainly basked in his glory, it by no means propelled him to the elite level of contemporary major champions like those named Woods, Mickelson or Faldo.

Instead, Micheel has been your average, run-of-the-mill PGA Tour player. His best finish since that glorious late summer Sunday in Rochester was a tie for fifth at the lower-rung Southern Farm Bureau Classic in 2005 -- an event that runs opposite the Tour Championship, reserved for the PGA Tour's top-30 money winners.

Being a hero in life doesn't translate to being a hero on the golf course. If it did, Micheel's nickname might be "Superman."

In 1993, while playing a Hooters Tour event in North Carolina, he helped save an elderly couple from drowning after the car they were driving crashed into a river.

But, back to the golf. One reason for his mediocre play can be attributed to the fact that in April 2005 he was diagnosed as having low testosterone, which left him feeling exhausted on the course and with practically no energy to play with his young son, Dade, who was born shortly after the PGA Championship win.

Turns out low testosterone was his kryptonite. Who knew that was possible for a brave, selfless man?

Fast forward to this week at Medinah. Apparently, Micheel's comfort zone is in the year's final major.

With a 5-under 67 in the third round Saturday, which included a tournament-best 6-under 30 on the front nine, Micheel will enter the final round of the 88th PGA Championship tied for fifth at 10-under par, four shots off the lead.

"I felt like I was in Palm Springs playing in the Bob Hope there with all the birdies," he joked. "It's nice to see that, though. When you start out, you're not really sure how everybody is going to play. It's Saturday, so everybody is sort of jockeying for position."

A come-from-behind win is unlikely, as three major winners -- Tiger Woods, Mike Weir and Geoff Ogilvy -- are all in front of him on the leader board. Even so, it's nice to see Micheel's name back in contention -- and at a major, no less.

So, what did he learn from that win at Oak Hill that he can take into Sunday?

"I learned that it's got a twin golf course in Medinah," he said. "This golf course reminds me so much of that. I don't know, I mean, look, I won this tournament a couple of years ago playing some pretty good golf, and I feel like I'm playing some good golf now, so there's no reason why I shouldn't keep it going.

"Like I said a couple of years ago, I was sick and tired of losing, and I'm kind of sick and tired of working on my game on the golf course instead of just playing," he explained. "I've noticed the last couple of weeks I've just been playing golf instead of critiquing every swing or every missed putt. I finally quit doing it and I have confidence in what I'm doing. ... I don't know, I've just got a lot of confidence for some reason this week."

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