Shaun Micheel Reveals Second Best Shot He Ever Hit
When a player hits a 7-iron to mere inches on the 72nd hole to win a major championship, every other shot that player hits could only ever be ranked second on the list of greatest shots hit in a career.
Or could it?
Shaun Micheel, the 2003 PGA champ at Oak Hill, is one of the only people on the planet who has this sort of dilemma, if it could be considered as such.
Two decades ago, Micheel had just made bogey on the 17th hole in the final round and was clinging onto a one-shot lead over Chad Campbell. He drove the ball slightly left off the par-4 18th tee and was only a few inches off the fairway but safely in a thin first cut of rough. From 174 yards, he hoisted a 7-iron high into the air, the ball landed softly onto the elevated green and trickled to within 3 inches of the pin. The kick-in birdie gave Micheel a two-shot victory, which turned out to be his only win on the PGA TOUR.
The now 54-year-old was back at Oak Hill Monday ahead of the 105th PGA Championship reminiscing about his major triumph when he was asked what he would consider the second-best shot he’d ever hit.
“I guess my 1B is probably the double eagle that I made on Father’s Day Sunday in the 2010 U.S. Open in the final round with Vijay [Singh] on No. 6,” Micheel said proudly. “That’s probably right up there. That was probably a better shot than the one I hit here 20 years ago.”
A more improbable shot for sure. It’s still only the second albatross in U.S. Open history.
That day at Pebble Beach, Micheel was 239 yards out on the par-5 sixth hole and he hit a 3-iron that found the bottom of the cup, although he never saw the ball drop but knew it was holed because of the gallery reaction. His mother was battling cancer at the time too, which made the moment emotional. He shot 72 and tied for 22nd place.
“My mom at that point was dying of cancer, and she passed away a few months after that,” Micheel said Monday at Oak Hill. “To kind of get that ball out of the hole and give it to my wife, and I gave that to my mom before she passed away. So, anyway, that's my 1B.”
Micheel has been back to Oak Hill several times over the past 20 years, although not as often as he’d like. He adores the membership and was able to get reacquainted with many members four years ago when he tied for 44th place here at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
This week though has all been about memories of 2003. His wife Stephanie was pregnant with their first child back then, and there are videos of Micheel kissing her stomach after his victory. On Monday, Micheel’s son Dade was standing near him when he spoke with the media.
“That person is right there now and he’s 19 and a freshman in college,” Micheel said with a tear in his eye.
He recalled meeting the late European Tour rules official John Paramor for the first time when Paramor rolled up on him and Campbell on the eighth green during the final round and told them that they were playing too slow. Micheel was not pleased.
“I promptly hit it underneath a little tree that's no longer there,” he quipped.
Twenty years is a long time ago and Micheel is still not sure how to feel about his greatest golf achievement. He remembers some things in vivid detail. Other things, not so much.
“I remember a lot of that Sunday 20 years ago. It’s fun,” Micheel said. “I’m glad to be here, and I’m actually playing pretty well. My chances of winning are less than they were in 2003. That’s OK, but it’s fun to share with my son.
“Like I said, to me, the 7-iron, I think about it. I think about the four days here, I think about the four rounds that I played and the incredible golf that I played, but I think about this little guy right here,” he said, pointing to son Dade. “That's what has special meaning to me this week.”