After heart surgery, Micheel tees it up at sectional

Shaun Micheel, pictured during the 2013 PGA Championship, is playing in the 2014 U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Cordova, Tenn.

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CORDOVA, Tenn. –– Shaun Micheel hit a few practice putts before his opening round of the U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Colonial Country Club and then walked over to say hello to an old friend. With a smile splitting his face, the 45-year-old former PGA champion looked the picture of good health. Not long ago, that was far from true.

“What do you want to talk about?” Micheel said. “My four stents and heart condition.”

And with that, Micheel began detailing how delighted he was to be playing golf today and have the opportunity to qualify for the U.S. Open.

Click here to follow our live U.S. Open sectional qualifying tracker.

“My neck was hurting me and I wasn’t feeling good. I could tell something was wrong,” Micheel said. On Feb. 17, he had a cardiac CT scan and was prescribed several medicines.

“I couldn’t exercise or do anything without being out of breath,” he said.

When his condition worsened, he underwent surgery on April 18. Surgeons found his right coronary artery was 99 percent blocked.

“They were going to put two stents in, but they ended up doing four,” he said.

Six days later, Micheel, who has limited playing access this season as a past champion, got a spot into the Web.com Tour’s WNB Golf Classic in Midland, Texas. Feeling better than he had in years, he played and missed the cut by one stroke.

Micheel said he is currently taking six different medications to monitor his condition. He was hoping to speak to former Tour pro turned Golf Channel commentator Notah Begay III, who suffered a heart attack in late April.

“Every time I have a chest pain I start to freak out,” Micheel said.

For now, golf is on his mind. Micheel’s childhood home backed up to the fourth green at Colonial Country Club's South Course, one of two courses being used for the Cordova qualifying site, and he knows it like the back of his hand.

He was the medalist at the 2010 U.S. Open sectional qualifier here. But whatever he shoots this time, Micheel knows now that whether he qualifies or not, it isn’t life or death.

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