ROCHESTER, New York (Reuters) - Shaun Micheel is golf’s ultimate one-hit wonder.
A decade ago the American was number one with a bullet, shooting to the top of the PGA Championship leaderboard to become one of golf’s most unlikely major winners.
That year he arrived at stately Oak Hill Country Club a virtual unknown and left a chart-topper with many critics predicting a string of hits to follow.
Now 44, Micheel returned to the scene of his greatest triumph this week a golden oldie with fans still singing the praises of what remains his one and only PGA Tour win.
“I know people want me to do well, and maybe they don’t expect me to do well, but I made a lot of fans up here in Rochester,” Micheel told Reuters. “I take a lot of pride in what happened 10 years ago.
“There were some great memories out there.”
Unfortunately for Micheel no new ones were made on Thursday as the 2003 champion scuffed his way to a six-over 76.
It was hardly a pleasant stroll down memory lane, Micheel’s nosedive beginning with a double-bogey at the par-four seventh followed by four straight bogeys from the 11th.
He would pick up his only birdie of the day at the par-three 16th but immediately gave that shot back with a bogey at 17.
“I started off OK, six pars and then kind of had a bad break on seven and made a six then I got on the bogey train,” said Micheel, still confident he can add another win to his resume.
“I didn’t have a great round, if I could have made two or three more birdies out there I would have been happy with three-over but it just wasn’t meant to be.
“I putted extremely well 10 years ago, I just couldn’t find that magic on the greens today.”
It took Micheel 164 tournaments to notch his first win and in the 10 years and 215 starts since it continues to be his only success.
In four PGA Tour events this year Micheel has yet to make the cut, record a round under 70 or earn any prize money.
“Had you told me that when I hoisted that trophy on Sunday night ... if somebody had whispered in my ear that you’re going to become a non-exempt player on the Tour and you’re going to be a non-exempt player on the Web.com Tour, I would have told you you were crazy, or thought I was dead or retired,” said Micheel.
“It’s been frustrating I suppose. The shoulder surgery I had in ‘08, I just don’t swing like I used to.
“My form just doesn’t function the way that I need it to. So I was kind of in search of a lot of things of trying to figure out how to recreate my golf swing.”
While some golf fans may struggle to recall the man who claimed the 2003 PGA Championship they are unlikely to forget the manner in which it was won.
Clinging to a one-stroke lead over Chad Campbell as he stepped onto the 18th tee, Micheel found the rough then took a seven-iron and unleashed a shot that landed inches from the cup leaving him a tap in for the win.
Micheel may not be remembered as one of the game’s greats but his shot has found a spot in golfing folklore, immortalized by a bronze plague on the 18th fairway.
“Over the years, I think I’ve escaped relatively unscathed with what I’m going to call the one-hit wonder notion,” said Micheel. “I mean, I totally get it, I really do, but I don’t think people really understand that there’s a process involved in winning major championship golf.”
For Micheel the beat goes on.
While 21 years of sweat and effort has produced a single title for Micheel, Tiger Woods recently put winning a tournament into perspective.
“Even if you miss the cut in every tournament you play in; you win one, you’re part of history,” said Woods.
Editing by Frank Pingue