Another major eludes Campbell’s grasp
Sunday, April 12, 2009
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Falling short hurts worse the second time around.
Just as he did at the PGA Championship in 2003, Chad Campbell had to watch Sunday as someone else won a major that could have been his. Making it sting even more was that it was the Masters.
“I’m probably a little more disappointed this time because I hit a lot of good shots on the last hole,” Campbell said. “And today, I kind of blew it myself.”
Kenny Perry birdied 16 to go two strokes up on Campbell and eventual winner Angel Cabrera, and it looked as if the tournament was over. But Perry bogeyed 17 when his chip shot tumbled off the front of the green. Perry then pushed his tee shot on 18 into the left bunker and pulled his approach shot.
With Campbell watching on TV in the scorer’s shed, Perry missed a 15-footer for par and Campbell had another chance.
He came out of the scorer’s shed with a determined look on his face, nodding yes when someone asked if he was ready to go. While Perry and Cabrera signed their cards, he and his caddie headed to the 18th tee for the first playoff hole.
Cabrera’s tee shot sailed into the trees on the right side, landing squarely behind a tree. Perry and Campbell’s drives, meanwhile, sat in the middle of the fairway.
“I was pretty excited to hit the fairway,” Campbell said. “I haven’t hit the fairway there all week, I think.”
But just as Cabrera was wiggling out of trouble, Campbell was finding some of his own. He had a “perfect” 7-iron shot, but he hung onto it a touch too long and it dropped into the rightside bunker in front of the green. He made a great bunker shot, and it rolled 6 feet past the hole.
With Perry already making par, all Campbell had to do was make his putt.
But he pushed it ever so slightly, and it lipped out. The crowd groaned and his wife Amy, who was watching from behind the green, doubled over.
Cabrera beat Perry on the second playoff hole.
“In 2006, Tim Clark had made the same bunker shot and for some reason I was thinking of that,” Campbell said. “All you have to do is dump it out and chase it down there. It was just a little bit outside-right. That’s what I was thinking. Unfortunately, I missed the putt.”
It was a much different scenario in ‘03, when he went to the 18th a stroke behind playing partner Shaun Micheel.
Micheel made one of the most memorable shots in PGA Championship history at Oak Hill, getting a mere two inches from the hole from 175 yards out. That’s what’s known as a “gimme,” and Campbell would have had to hole out just to tie.
He didn’t, and finished two strokes behind Micheel.
Once hailed by Sports Illustrated as the next great American player, Campbell has won four times since Oak Hill, including the Tour Championship and Bay Hill in 2004. A surprise pick for the Ryder Cup last year, he wound up going 2-1 as the Americans won for the first time in eight years.
But he’s never quite lived up to that glowing early praise. In fact, his biggest splash this year before getting to Augusta National was because of a blunder. On the plane to the Sony Open in January, he realized he’d forgotten to enter the tournament.
He had just one top-10 finish before the Masters, a tie for ninth at the Bob Hope Classic. He hadn’t cracked the top 20 since.