Amid the sedate world of golf, where a tip of the cap and a post-round handshake help define the gentleman's game, Shaun Micheel sometimes is partial to a little rock 'n' roll. Take the events that followed his victory at last year's PGA Championship.
Just when it seemed circumstances could not get any better after he hoisted the championship trophy and pocketed more than $1 million for winning the season's final major, Micheel found out what it really means to party like a rock star. A lifelong fan of KISS -- "I've got every album, I think" -- Micheel got to go backstage with the bad-boy band that has made its living spitting blood and fire and generally wreaking havoc over the past 30 years.
"Hey, it's their gig. It's their thing. It's how they make their living," said Micheel, who attended the show in Columbus, Ohio, with KISS's entourage a week after winning the PGA at Oak Hill. "I'm assuming that over the years that things have calmed down. They've gotten a little older, a little wiser. They have a lot of fun doing it, and they make a lot of money out of it. They obviously put on a great show, and they're very entertaining.
"It's enjoying to kind of see what other people do for their living. I'm in awe of what they do. Maybe they'd like to know what it's like to be a golfer."
Lately for Micheel, 35, life on the PGA Tour has been considerably less glamorous than his whirlwind week of winning the PGA and celebrating with buddies in kabuki makeup. His top finish this season was ninth at the Players Championship in late March. Since then, Micheel's best showing was a tie for 22nd at the Masters.
"It is getting better," Micheel said of his game, and his opening 4-under 67 yesterday at the Booz Allen Classic reflects that. "I have taken some time off the last month or two to spend time with my family. I think I am on the right track. I need to get the putter working a little bit better, and I think things will take care of themselves."
Not even a balky putter could prevent Micheel from shooting a low number during his early round at TPC at Avenel, where conditions yesterday were suited to scoring. Micheel was able to take aim at pins for much of his round, and the results were nearly flawless. He hit his first 17 greens in regulation before pulling his tee shot at the par-3 ninth. No matter: Micheel dug into the bunker guarding the left side of the green and landed his sand wedge shot within a few feet for an easy par.
That was a refreshing contrast to Micheel's most recent round in which he shot 10-over 80 at the U.S. Open. He had made eight birdies through the first three days, but the cruel final-round conditions at Shinnecock Hills claimed Micheel as one of many victims. He finished the tournament 13 over in a tie for 28th.
"We got two extremes. These greens are extremely soft, and you can put up some numbers," Micheel said. "I think that's what the fans want to see. This golf course requires some good, demanding tee shots and some good shots into the greens because the greens are pretty large. But overall, it is nice to come back to a place where you feel like you hit quality shots and you're rewarded."