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Rediff.com  » Sports » Micheel triumphs, Woods has worst finish

Micheel triumphs, Woods has worst finish

August 18, 2003 17:18 IST

Shaun Micheel struck a brilliant seven-iron approach to two inches at the last to seal a shock win at the U.S. PGA Championship on Sunday as Tiger Woods completed his worst major finish as a professional.

World-ranked 169th, the 34-year-old American journeyman became the seventh player to clinch the tournament at the first attempt, firing a closing level-par 70 to secure his maiden PGA Tour title by two shots.

Micheel, who was holding a one-stroke lead when he hit his approach from the first cut of rough on 18, finished on four-under 276 at a sun-drenched Oak Hill Country Club.

His tap-in for birdie earned him his first grand slam title in only his third start and, after raising his arms in celebration, he walked across the green to embrace his pregnant wife Stephanie before kneeling and gently kissing her belly.

Micheel's compatriot and playing partner Chad Campbell finished alone in second place at two under after carding a 72.

South African Tim Clark, who made a fast start with three birdies in the first four holes, stumbled with four bogeys after the turn and had to settle for third position at one under after a 69.

Germany's Alex Cejka was fourth at even par, also after a 69, while three-times major winner Ernie Els never gave himself enough birdie chances on the firming greens and carded a 71 for a share of fifth place with Jay Haas.

"I had a perfect yardage into 18 and the ball was sitting up," Micheel told reporters of his second shot from 175 yards at the last.

"When I hit the ball up there, and walked up and actually saw how close it was, a whole range of emotions came through.

'LEAKING OIL'

"I was really leaking oil coming down the stretch. Not closing the deal was probably the first thing that came to my mind, besides my family and my wife, because I knew I couldn't miss that putt.

"It was a great feeling and I'm just thrilled to be champion here in New York," added the American after the 85th U.S. PGA Championship fell to a first-time winner for the 13th time in the last 16 years.

Micheel's victory completed a clean sweep of first-time winners at this year's majors, following the breakthrough victories achieved by Mike Weir (U.S. Masters), Jim Furyk (U.S. Open) and Ben Curtis (British Open).

The four majors had not previously been won by first-timers in a single season since 1969, when George Archer took the Masters, Orville Moody the U.S. Open, Briton Tony Jacklin the British Open and Raymond Floyd the U.S. PGA Championship.

Micheel follows Jim Barnes (in 1916), Tom Creavy (1931), Bob Hamilton (1944), Doug Ford (1955), Bob Tway (1986) and John Daly (1991) as U.S. PGA champions on debut.

He began the day tied for the lead with Campbell and recovered from back-to-back bogeys on seven and eight with three birdies down the stretch.

Appearing ice-cool, he drove the green at the 323-yard 14th to set up his third birdie of the day and move three clear of the field.

But he three-putted at the 181-yard 15th to slip back to three under, with his lead cut to one when Campbell holed a birdie putt on the same hole from 25 feet.

On 16, Micheel holed a 20-foot birdie putt to get back to four under, restoring his two-shot cushion with two to play.

SUPERB APPROACH

However, he then bogeyed 17 after missing the fairway off the tee before memorably securing the last of the year's four majors with his superb approach into 18.

Woods completed his final round half an hour before the leaders teed off, carding a three-over-par 73.

The 27-year-old American, struggling for accuracy off the tee all week, lost any chance of mounting a last-day charge with two bogeys in his first three holes, and dropped three more shots between the 10th and 15th.

Although he finished strongly with birdies on 16 and at the last, lifting his meagre birdie haul for the week to six, he finished at 12-over 292, tying for 39th place in a field of 69.

"It was a tough week and it was frustrating out there but I'm so happy now that I'm done," said Woods, who hit only eight of 14 fairways in the final round. "If I wasn't making a 10-footer for par, I was making bogey somewhere.

"I didn't hit the ball as well as I needed to but I putted great all week. Unfortunately, they were all for pars and a few for bogeys.

"When you're not as precise as you need to be, it's going to be tough.

"This golf course is just a brutal test. It's the hardest, fair golf course I've ever played."

Woods was bidding this week for his ninth career major and his first since last year's U.S. Open. He has now completed his first season without a major victory since 1998.

Although he has made every cut in the 28 majors he has played as a pro, his previous worst finish was a tie for 29th, in the U.S. PGA Championship at Winged Foot in 1997 and again at Atlanta Athletic Club in 2001.

Mark Lamport-Stokes
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