Glorious Last Shot

By Sports NetworkAugust 17, 2003, 4:00 pm
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Shaun Micheel knocked a 7-iron from the first cut of rough within inches of the cup at the 72nd hole Sunday to cement a two-shot win at the PGA Championship.
 
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.
 
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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x