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They're Two of a Kind

Campbell shoots a 65 to tie Micheel in PGA Championship. Today, the upstarts will try for their first tour victory.

August 17, 2003|Chris Dufresne | Times Staff Writer

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Shaun Micheel and Chad Campbell are tied for the lead at four-under 206 heading into today's final round of the 85th PGA Championship.

Or maybe it's Shaun Campbell and Chad Micheel.

In this year of the roulette-wheel major winners, all these look-alike upstart contenders start to run together.

"It's funny," Micheel said Saturday, "everybody thinks I'm Chad Campbell. It's unbelievable."

Micheel and Campbell share the same complexion, body type -- they even dress alike.

Today, at Oak Hill Country Club, they will be paired in the final group with another common interest: making their first win on tour a major victory.

This is not Palmer versus Nicklaus, Norman versus Faldo, or Woods versus Els.

This is what it is, possibly the fitting conclusion to a golf season in which three players have already broken through to win their first major titles.

Why not go for the cycle?

There have not been four first-time major winners in the same season since 1969.

Campbell and Micheel are hardly dead-lock cinches to pull this off.

Micheel once saved two people from drowning in a lake, but this is different. This is golf.

"I felt sick this morning," Micheel said of the pressure. "I couldn't eat."

Micheel has not won a tournament in 163 tries on tour, while Campbell's last significant triumph came on the Hooters Tour in 1998 at something called the Jackaroo Steakhouse and Sauce Classic.

Micheel and Campbell hold a tenuous three-shot lead over Mike Weir, the reigning Masters champion, who is at one-under 209 overall after shooting a par 70.

Micheel shot a one-under 69 on Saturday while Campbell's five-under 65 was low round of the day.

Timothy Clark sits at even-par 210 and four shots back, while four Wanamaker Trophy wannabes lurk five shots behind at one-over 211.

One of the stalkers is Ernie Els, a three-time major champion who shot 70 on Saturday, while others with an outside chance include Vijay Singh at two-over 212 and Phil Mickelson at three-over 213.

One player the leaders don't have to worry about is Tiger Woods, who is tied for 43rd at nine-over 219 overall after shooting a three-over 73.

No one can even pretend to know how this PGA will turn out.

For most of the day, you would have never known Micheel had trouble keeping his breakfast down.

He shot 33 on a front nine that included birdies on seven, eight and nine. He made a terrific par save at 11, a long birdie putt on No. 12. At the par-five 13th, his third shot flew the green and bounced off a female spectator, who drew an interference call when she picked up the ball and tossed it in the rough.

She didn't know Micheel, 34, used to be terrified at playing in front of crowds and most of all feared hitting his ball into the gallery.

"I didn't like walking around the fairway," he said. "I felt comfortable inside the ropes, but I felt almost embarrassed if I hit it outside the ropes and I hit someone, like I did today. Probably would have ruined my day."

Saturday was different, as he received a free drop and saved his par.

After a birdie on No. 15, Micheel stood at seven-under and held a four-shot lead over Campbell.

But Campbell made a birdie at the par-four 16th while Micheel finished with bogeys on his last three holes to bring the players even.

Campbell, who started third-round play at one-over, capped his magnificent day by rolling in a 40-foot birdie putt at No. 18.

Unlike Ben Curtis winning the British Open or Micheel possibly winning here, Campbell triumphing in the PGA would not be a tremendous shock.

He has long been touted as "the next big thing" in golf. Sports Illustrated put him on its U.S. Open cover issue this year.

In a survey of tour players asking which player was most likely to break through to win his first major, Campbell finished second in balloting behind Jim Furyk.

Furyk, of course, did break through to win at Olympia Fields.

Is it Campbell's turn?

The 29-year-old Texan wasn't even worried about the SI cover jinx.

"No pressure, really," he said. "I think everybody loved it. Even a lot of fans, there's no telling how many covers I've signed for people that have mailed them to me, or just people that I've seen out there."

Campbell has 11 top-25 finishes this year, including a solo second at the Chrysler Classic.

This is shaping up as the toughest PGA since 1987 at National Golf Club, when Larry Nelson and Lanny Wadkins were the only players to finish 72 holes under par.

This is also shaping up as a woebegone weekend for Woods.

Woods has shot rounds of 74, 72 and 73. Unless he breaks 70 today, this will be the first time since the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie that Woods has shot four rounds of over par.

Woods has struggled in the past but seemed capable of willing his way into contention.

"Sometimes you can get by with smoke and mirrors," he said.

This weekend, though, largely because of the thick rough, Woods has been severely penalized for his lack of accuracy off the tee. He has hit only 18 of 42 fairways and has only four birdies against 13 bogeys.

He lost his tee shot right at No. 14 and, the way things were going, figured his ball would be pinned behind a tree.

"You just know it," Woods said.

Woods also thought he had hit a perfect shot at the par-three 15th hole.

"I was just two feet from being a kick-in and now I'm off the green chipping," he lamented. "It's just one thing after another, and you start laughing at it. Just, what else can go wrong?"

Barring a miracle, this will be the sixth major in a row Woods has not won -- light-years in the eyes of an icon.

Woods was 15th at this year's Masters, 20th at the U.S. Open and fourth at the British.

The worst Woods has ever finished at a major is 29th, while this probably will mark the first season since 1998 he has not won at least one major title.

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