Micheel held a one-stroke lead over playing partner and overnight co-leader Chad Campbell as the duo made their way to Oak Hill Country Club's difficult closing hole. Campbell found the fairway while Micheel got a great kick out of the rough and into the first cut.
Micheel stiffed his approach to inches, essentially wrapping up the title. Campbell needed to hole out for a chance at a playoff but his 7-iron approach landed 15 feet from the hole.
'It was an absolutely perfect, perfect number,' said Micheel, who pocketed $1,080,000 for the win. 'I don't normally close that well. I sure liked the way I finished today.
'I knew it was close. I asked somebody and maybe they weren't paying attention or didn't really care to tell me. When I saw it was two inches, I figured I can make that one.'
Campbell may not have walked off with the Wanamaker Trophy but it was his highest finish in a major and his third runner-up so far in 2003.
'I had a chance there at the end, but couldn't quite catch him,' said Campbell.
Micheel posted an even-par 70 on Sunday to win the 2003 season's final major championship. He finished at 4-under-par 276, which was good for a two-shot victory over Campbell, who carded a 2-over 72 in the final round.
The win by Micheel at Oak Hill was his first and he became the first player since John Daly in 1991 to win the PGA Championship in his first try. Ben Curtis won the British Open last month for his first PGA Tour title and Micheel joined him in a selective group of 10 to make win No. 1 on tour a major.
Micheel, Curtis, Mike Weir, the Masters champion, and Jim Furyk, the U.S. Open winner, comprise the first group of players who swept the majors without a previous Grand Slam victory since 1969.
'I really can't believe that this happened to me,' said Micheel, the 13th first-time major winner in the last 16 PGA Championships. 'I showed up here on Tuesday and played a practice round and saw how difficult this golf course was. I was just trying to make the cut.'
Tim Clark briefly held a piece of the lead after the turn but only managed a 1-under 69. He finished alone in third place at 1-under-par 279, followed by Alex Cejka, who also shot a 69 in finishing at even-par for the championship.
Tiger Woods never mounted any final-round charge Sunday. He shot a 3-over 73 and tied for 39th place, his worst finish in a major championship as a professional.
'It was a tough week,' said Woods. 'I didn't hit the ball as well as I needed to. I putted great all week. Unfortunately, they were all for pars and a few for bogeys. I didn't make any doubles for the week, though, which was good, the only good thing, I guess.'
Woods failed to win a major championship in a season for the first time since 1998. His last Grand Slam victory was at the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, his eighth major title as a professional.
Micheel had to work hard for his first major win as he was involved in a battle with Campbell all day Sunday. He and Campbell began the final round tied for the lead but Micheel broke out right away with a 40-foot birdie at the first. Campbell missed a seven-footer for par at the same hole so right away, Micheel was two clear of the field.
The pair went 2 over par from holes two through 12 until Campbell nearly holed his approach at 13 to set up birdie and claw within one of the lead.
At the 14th, Micheel looked like he wrapped up the title. He drove the green and landed the ball 35 feet from the hole while Campbell missed the putting surface in a right bunker. Campbell caught his blast fat and left it in the rough with perhaps a more difficult lie than his sand shot.
Campbell's third shot hit the hole but ran six feet past the cup. Micheel left his eagle try seven feet short but holed the birdie try to reach 4 under par for the championship. Campbell missed his par-saving try to fall to 1 under, three off Micheel's lead.
Micheel played safely left of the flag at the par-3 15th and knocked it 45 feet from the cup. Micheel's birdie try came up 10 feet short and Campbell had 30 feet for birdie and sank the putt to cut into Micheel's lead. Micheel missed his par putt short so after this two-shot swing, Campbell was only one off the pace.
On Saturday, Micheel bogeyed his final three holes to fall into a tie for the 54-hole lead.
Both players missed the fairway off the 16th tee but both were able to muscle shots on to the green. Campbell left himself with 65 feet but lagged a beautiful putt to kick-in range for par. Micheel drained a 20-footer for birdie to go two ahead with two to play.
On Sunday, Micheel drove into the left rough at No. 17, near where he was on Saturday. In the final round, Micheel laid up into the first cut then hit his third to 35 feet. Campbell parred the hole but Micheel missed his par putt short and then the drama at 18.
'It was a little crazy, a little back and forth,' said Campbell. 'I just tried to stay patient and let things happen and give myself a chance at the end. Then his shot on 18 was just phenomenal.'
Three-time major champion Ernie Els never got anything going on Sunday and finished with a 1-over 71. He tied for fifth place with 49-year-old Jay Haas, who shot his second consecutive round of 69 on the weekend. The duo finished at 2-over-par 282.
At the beginning of the round, Weir was three off the lead and looked to be in good shape for a comeback. Then he bogeyed his first five holes and fell out of contention. He posted a final-round 75 to share seventh with Fred Funk (72) and Loren Roberts (71) at plus-4.
Phil Mickelson, the co-leader after the first round, is now 0-46 in major championships. He carded a 5-over 75 on Sunday and tied for 23rd at 8-over-par 288.