Micheel has composer's name, champion's game

August 19, 2003|by TIM KOELBLE



Sounds like the last name of someone who should be conducting a symphony orchestra.

When I get done with this column, my spellcheck is going to highlight his last name all over the place as a mistake and tell me to change it to Michael.

Nope. Shaun Micheel is the latest no-name golfer to play his own tune.

Another first-time winner on the PGA Tour. And a major at that.

Micheel just had to go and take some of the luster away from Ben Curtis as the probable top story of the year in sports.

Curtis, ranked 396th in the world, won the British Open a month ago. Now, as the 169th-ranked player, Micheel pops up out of nowhere in his 164th start as a professional and wins the PGA Tournament.


Micheel's triumph may get the top billing for two reasons.

First, his atomic bomb from the fairway on the 18th hole that landed two inches from an eagle in the final round Sunday will be one of the great shots of all time. We'll see it on every replay imaginable.

Second, Micheel and playing partner and challenger Chad Campbell went head-to-head the final round. If Palmer, Nicklaus or Watson were any of the twosomes, one of the greatest chapters in golf history would have been written. Nonetheless, Sunday's final round was a made-for-ESPN Classic.

Remember the chip-in by Larry Mize at Augusta? Or the bunker shot from Bob Tway at Inverness? Or a 5-iron blast over water from Jerry Pate in Atlanta? Those were some of the great shots on the way to their victories in a major.

That's where Micheel's 174-yard shot from the first cut of rough, from 175 yards out, will rank in history. Right near the top.

The last two days of the PGA were great viewing, even if the big names were flopping along the way.

I felt bad for Mike Weir Sunday as he opened his round with five straight bogeys. I certainly would not have minded if he won his second major of the season.

Indeed, golf continues to make for a great show in the majors, even with the lesser-knowns. Even Hilary Lunke and Angela Stanford proved it in the Women's U.S. Open.

A struggle for Tiger

I wonder how many of the golf beat writers actually play golf on a regular basis.

All we'll hear about now, and up until the Masters next April, is "his slump."

As sports editor Mark Keller talked about in his column Sunday, Tiger Woods is not in a slump.

We all struggle, whatever the magnitude of the event.

There still are times when I manage a decent round of golf, albeit nothing like these guys are playing for. When things go south, does that mean I am in a slump? Heck no!

Woods has now gone six majors without winning one of them. His total still stands at eight.

Even Nicklaus, winner of 18 majors, went for a period of time without one. After winning his sixth major he went four years without another major title.

Woods, and so many others, were gobbled up by Oak Hill's brutal layout. And don't say it was an unfair course setup. He simply struggled for four days.

Tim Koelble is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5151, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at

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