Micheel wins PGA after remarkable back-nine duel

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Shaun Micheel's name on the trophy might
look out of place alongside Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Walter

Just not this year.

And certainly not after one of the most memorable shots in PGA
Championship history, a 7-iron that stopped 2 inches away from the
18th hole.

''I can't believe this is happening to me,'' Micheel said.

He wasn't alone.

Micheel arrived at Oak Hill on Tuesday just hoping to make the
cut. He was No. 169 in the world ranking, winless in 163 previous
starts on the PGA Tour.

This year, though, that made him a perfect candidate to capture
the final major.

His two-stroke victory over Chad Campbell on Sunday made it a
clean sweep of the Grand Slam for guys who had never won a major.

The last time that happened was 1969, the year Micheel was born.

None of the others -- Mike Weir at The Masters, Jim Furyk at the
U.S. Open or even long shot Ben Curtis at the British Open -- ever
finished like this.

His heart pounding, his lead down to a single stroke, Micheel
stood in the first cut of rough on the 18th hole, 175 yards from
the flag.

''When that ball was in the air, all I was asking for was just
to carry to the front of the green,'' Micheel said.

The roar of the crowd told him it was better than that. Only
when Micheel jogged up the steep slope of shaggy rough to the green
did he realize it was almost perfect.

The ball hopped three times and trickled to 2 inches, a
spectacular finish to the most surprising season of majors in 34

The tap-in birdie was the easiest shot he had all day.

It gave him an even-par 70 and his first tour victory -- at a
major championship, no less.

''I was trying to win the B.C. Open a year ago this time,''
Micheel said. ''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.''

Micheel, who finished at 4-under 276, was playing in only his
third major. At times it showed, but not when it mattered.

''Be right!'' Micheel's caddie shouted as his 7-iron took
flight, then descended from the blue skies over Oak Hill.

Campbell, who rallied from a three-stroke deficit with four
holes to play, was in the fairway and poised to make a run at
birdie to force a playoff.

''I knew I had to hit a good shot,'' Campbell said. ''That was
obviously before he hit his, and I didn't know it was an inch. His
shot on 18 was just phenomenal.''

Tim Clark of South Africa, tied for the lead as he made the
turn, made four bogeys on the back nine and had to settle for a 69,
three shots behind.

Alex Cejka of Germany, filling out the foursome of no-name
players who contended for the fourth major of the year, had a 69
and was at even-par 280.

Micheel became the first player since John Daly in 1991 to make
the PGA Championship his first victory, and he is the 13th winner
in the last 16 years to make the PGA his first major.

He walked off the green and into the arms of his pregnant wife,
Stephanie, hugging her and then kissing her belly.

''I was so nervous I didn't know if it was the baby or just
butterflies,'' Stephanie Micheel said.

She had reason to be nervous.

Even though Micheel never trailed after making a 10-foot par
putt on No. 10, he had to endure wild swings of momentum on each of
the final holes.

  • Campbell nearly holed out from the 13th fairway to cut the
    lead to one.

  • Micheel hit driver to the fringe on the 323-yard 14th hole,
    giving him a two-putt birdie and a three-shot lead when Campbell
    missed a short par putt.

  • Campbell responded with a 35-foot birdie putt on the next
    hole, and again cut the lead to one when Micheel three-putted for

    No shot was as important as the 16th, when Micheel slugged out
    of the gnarly rough and ran his approach into 25 feet for an
    improbable birdie and a two-shot lead, a big cushion with two of
    the toughest holes at Oak Hill still to play.

    ''I had a chance there at the end, but couldn't quite catch
    him,'' Campbell said.

    With Rich Beem winning the PGA Championship last year at
    Hazeltine, the last five majors have gone to guys who had never
    captured golf's biggest tournaments. That's the longest streak
    since 1959.

    Along with the $1.08 million prize, Micheel gets a five-year
    exemption on the PGA Tour and into the other three majors. He gets
    to play the PGA Championship as long as he likes.

    Oak Hill lived up its reputation in at least one aspect: In four
    previous majors, a total of seven players finished under par.

    Everyone knew the champions, though -- Cary Middlecoff in the
    1956 U.S. Open; Lee Trevino in the 1968 U.S. Open; Nicklaus in the
    1980 PGA Championship; and Curtis Strange winning his second
    straight U.S. Open in 1989.

    Add Micheel to the roll.

    He sat next to the Wanamaker Trophy and studied the names, still

    ''I look down that list right there and see all the names, ... I
    just hope that maybe I can produce a career like a lot of those

    Woods ended his worst major championship in style with birdies
    on two of the final three holes and finished at 12-over 292. It was
    his highest score in relation to par at a major, and only the third
    time he was over par in all four rounds.

    Walking briskly down a brick path toward the scoring room to
    sign for his 3-over 73, Woods said, ''The suffering is over.''

    Oak Hill still had plenty of pain to dish out.

    No one suffered quite like Weir, who was trying to become the
    first player since Nicklaus to win the first and final major of the

    He was only three strokes behind and had experience on his side.
    What he didn't have was a club in his hand to find the fairway.

    The Canadian bogeyed his first five holes and was never again a

    Ernie Els, with a chance to get the third leg of a career Grand
    Slam, got within three strokes of the lead as he made the turn. He
    made sloppy bogeys on two of the next three holes and meaningless
    pars the rest of the way.

    Vijay Singh didn't make a birdie until the 14th hole, but by
    then he was well on his way to a 79, his second Sunday fade in a
    major this year. He closed with a 78 at the U.S. Open.

    Those were the only guys among the top 11 on the leaderboard
    going into the final round who had won majors.

    Then again, no experience was necessary this year.