PITTSFORD, N.Y. (WROC) — 20 years ago, Shaun Micheel fired off one of the greatest shots in major history en route to one of the unlikelies wins in golf history.
“I’m happy for my moment,” said Micheel. “I really am. It was a big part of my life and still is.”
Micheel was back in Rochester last weekend, appearing at Oak Hill and downtown as part of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters gala.
He famously won the 2003 PGA Championship at Oak Hill with a 7-iron from 174 yards away which he stuck to just two inches away.
While he looks back fondly on the week and the shot, he also makes sure to recall everything else that went into his victory.
“I think of sharing that week with my wife who was six months pregnant with our son,” said Micheel. “I think of driving Stephanie around Rochester looking for a pharmacy. I think of sharing that hug with her on 18, I think of having some friends here.”
He also recalls a drive that might have been more memorable than any off of the tee box at the East Course.
“There’s a Wendy’s drive-thru down there on East Avenue,” said Micheel. “I went to the Wendy’s drive-thru after I just won the PGA Championship to get Stephanie something to eat. We got stuck in the drive-thru [in a limo]. We couldn’t make the turn. We managed to make it around. Those are the things that I think of.”
In the past two decades, Micheel was never able to recapture the magic of that August weekend.
He had shoulder surgery in 2008 and heart surgery in 2014, crediting his fitness and golfing for helping him overcome a multi-vessel heart blockage. Both of his parents also passed away since his 2003 victory.
“Life comes at you in crazy ways, and there are a lot of mistakes that I made,” said Micheel. “There’s a lot of regrets that I have. But I’m proud. I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish, even if I’d even if I just won one of these things.”
Micheel finished 2nd to Tiger Woods at the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah Country Club and finished top 50 in the money list that year. However, his Oak Hill victory is the only of his career. His 401 career starts are the most among golfers whose only PGA tour win is a major.
Micheel will play in this year’s PGA Championship and is looking forward to sharing the experience with his family and seeing how the golf’s new stars will tackle Oak Hill in May.
“The people of Rochester love their golf,” said Micheel. “They’re going to embrace this championship no matter when it is. So I’m excited to kind of get in the locker room, go to the Champions dinner and hear what these guys have to say about the course. And I want to see how they play.”
With three holes restored since the 2013 PGA Championship and hundreds of trees removed, the course will play drastically different this time around, especially with the event being held three months earlier.
“I don’t think there’ll be anybody that would really separate themselves. I think that’s what this course does,” said Micheel. “It doesn’t really allow anybody to win by four or five shots. I think par is going to be a good score. Par threes are tough. A lot of longer clubs in. Are the par five’s going to be reachable? Especially with the newness of the greens, there’s a lot more challenge around the greens. A lot more difficulty in pitching over the greens. It’s just a lot of unknowns.”
While Micheel says he has no illusion of winning, he says he can definitely still compete among the game’s best.