FORMER HOOSIER SHAUM MICHEEL WINS NIKE EVENT
July 12, 1999 FORMER HOOSIER SHAUM MICHEEL WINS NIKE EVENT
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Leaving the 15th hole in Sunday's final round of the NIKE Greensboro Open, Shaun Micheel trailed Garrett Willis by three strokes. But he had hardly given up hope.
Micheel took advantage of the last three holes, playing them 1-under par to win by a stroke over Willis.
"You need to be patient out here. There are 72 holes of golf not 69," Micheel explained.
Micheel began the day one stroke behind Willis and played the front nine in even par -- only to trail Willis by three at the turn.
"I was a little frustrated at the turn because my iron play was great, but I couldn't get any putts to fall," Micheel said.
Afterwards Micheel said he learned a lot about himself this week, especially about his patience -- which paid off for for him as he watched Willis double bogey the 16th hole.
"I feel great right now, but I didn't expect it," Micheel said of his victory.
The win was Micheel's first on the NIKE TOUR, as well as his first victory since the 1998 Singapore Open on the former Omega Tour.
"This will help me move toward the top 15 on the money list and I hope I will not have to go to Q-school," he said. "I have had Q-school on my calendar for seven years and I hate it -- you can't sleep, you can't eat, your wife hates you."
He currently stands 12th on the NIKE TOUR money list. The top 15 at the end of the year automatically earn their PGA TOUR playing privileges for 2000.
A lack of communication between Willis and his caddie caused some indecision in shot selection during the third round. After a bogey on the first hole on Sunday, though, it appeared Willis had corrected that communication problem.
Willis came back and birdied the second and third holes and then birdied the sixth hole on his way to a front-side 33.
"I felt like the start on (No. 1) was an omen to get me going, but I wish it would have just lasted a little longer," said Willis. "I had total control of my club selection and my caddie read approximately 98 percent to 99 percent of my putts."
This strategy seemed to work all the way until the 16th hole. Willis pulled out a 3-iron to attack a pin that was located six paces from the left side of the green on the 218-yard par 3.
"I hit the ball harder than I wanted to and it turned over, landing 10 yards left of the green," he said.
From there Willis tried to hood a sand wedge and run the ball onto the green, but instead pulled up and left the ball short in a bunker.
"I didn't trust my shot and I came up out of it," Willis said.
He blasted his sand shot 20 feet past the pin and two-putted for a double bogey. But he managed to pull himself together and reach the 17th green in two.
Willis was away and was forced to putt near Micheel's mark.
Willis elected not to have Micheel move his mark, but the ball hit it and moved off line. Out of frustration Willis lipped out his tap-in and Micheel made a birdie.
Willis needed a birdie on the 72nd hole, but his putt slid just below the hole.
"I feel like somebody has just taken my lunch money and pushed me down the stairs," said Willis.
The second place showing was Willis' best finish to date on the NIKE TOUR.
The cut was made on Friday to 66 players at 1-under-par or better. Micheel
took home a check worth $40,500.
© Indiana University Athletics, 1999
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