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Last Updated: Monday, 18 August, 2003, 02:38 GMT 03:38 UK
Micheel adds to major mystery
By Matt Slater
Golf editor

A month after 'Ben who?' stole the headlines at Sandwich, the golf world now has to come to grips with 'Shaun what?' winning at Oak Hill.

And to think we used to moan that golf in the Tiger Woods era was too predictable. How things have changed.

Shaun Micheel
1969 Born 5 Jan, Orlando, Florida
1992 Turns pro after attending Indiana University
1993 Earns PGA card, and saves couple from sinking car at event in North Carolina
1996 Regains PGA card
1998 Wins Singapore Open
1999 Wins second-tier event, the Greensboro Open
2000 Enjoys best year to date on tour
2001 Loses card but regains it at Tour School
2002 Career-best 3rd at B.C. Open, finishes 105th on money list
2003 Produces three top-10s on tour before winning USPGA

There was certainly nothing predictable about a dramatic final day at the USPGA on Sunday.

With a host of big names either stuck in neutral or jammed in reverse, a trio of relatively unknown players made the last major of the 2003 season their very own monthly medal.

Shaun Micheel, Chad Campbell and Tim Clark all enjoyed moments when it looked like it was going to be their name etched on the Wanamaker Trophy as USPGA champion, but Micheel had more of them and he also had the one that counted - the final moment.

A stunning seven-iron to the 18th green - surely the shot of the year - left the 34-year-old Micheel needing a tap-in to secure a seat at golf's top table.

The 169th-ranked player in the world also added his name to 2003's list of first-time major-winners - as well as the USPGA's impressive tally of unlikely victors.

After a few years of waiting for somebody other than Tiger to win a major, this season has seen a stampede of breakthrough major champions - Mike Weir, Jim Furyk, Ben Curtis and now Micheel.

The last time there were this many first-time champions with trophies on the mantelpiece was 1969.

What happens next for each of the four first-timers will be the crucial factor in deciding whether this year is the start of a new, more democratic, era in men's golf or just an aberration while Woods looked for a driver he likes.

Weir and Furyk - neither of them true outsiders when they won their maiden majors - are certain to be regular challengers for years to come, as Weir was here until an abysmal start to his fourth round derailed his charge.

The future prospects of Curtis and Micheel, on the other hand, are far more difficult to predict.

A year ago I was just trying to keep my card - even a month or two ago I was just trying to keep my card
Shaun Micheel

"It's kind of scary, really," Micheel told reporters when asked how it felt to be arguably the most surprising USPGA champion since John Daly in 1991.

"I think the fear of the unknown frightens all of us and I certainly had that today.

"Even though I'm USPGA champion now, I don't really know what's in store for me, I really don't.

"I just hope I can represent the PGA and the PGA of America in a humble manner."

But what is certain of Micheel is he truly deserved this victory. And there can be no question marks over his bravery or sense of timing.

If his 275th shot at Oak Hill wasn't proof enough of those qualities, it should be pointed out the amiable American rescued a drowning couple from a sinking car in 1993.

Ten years later and it appears that his good deed has finally been rewarded with a maiden PGA Tour victory and $1m winner's cheque.

When Micheel tapped in his final shot, it triggered a huge ovation at Oak Hill. Micheel raised his hands in triumph as he was joined on the 18th green by his pregnant wife Stephanie before kneeling and kissing her belly.

"It was a very difficult day emotionally for me," he said. "A year ago I was just trying to keep my card - even a month or two ago I was just trying to keep my card.

"To have my name on that trophy, I don't really know what I'm thinking right now.

"I look down at that list and see all the names and I just hope I can produce a career like a lot of those guys."

Links to more USPGA 2003 stories



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