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Micheel becoming used to Major status

Richard Gralitzer is Shaun Micheel's agent, has been since 1997.

When Micheel hit the shot heard round the golfing world on Sunday to win the PGA Championship, Gralitzer was on a family vacation in Mexico.

So Gralitzer left his family and began a journey to Akron, Ohio, by way of Mexico City and Atlanta. More than 400 calls had been received on his various phones - cell phone, office, home - and the last few days have been, Gralizter said, "exhausting."

"Right now, it is time management at its finest," Gralitzer said.

For Micheel, his new life as a major champion officially began on Wednesday, when he arrived at Firestone Country Club for the NEC, an exclusive event that is part of the World Golf Championships.

Micheel, who lives in the Sanga Grove subdivision in Cordova, did interviews on two nationally syndicated radio programs, The Dan Patrick Show on ESPN and with Jim Rome. He appeared on ESPN's coverage of the U.S. Amateur with Andy North and Scott van Pelt. Gralitzer said there will also be mainstream TV opportunities, including the possibility of being a guest on one of the late-night TV talk shows.

Rome, for one, was impressed with Micheel, and the brash host did not even ask Micheel about the time he swam into a river to rescue an elderly couple from their car.

"We are way over (on time), but that was worth it," Rome said after the interview was over. "That was excellent. . . . He's obviously still floating a little bit."

Gralitzer said that fans in Akron recognized Micheel immediately, and a short walk to the clubhouse turned into a 20-minute trek accompanied by autograph seekers.

"In the end, he can't make everyone happy, and Shaun feels really bad about it," Gralitzer said.

Micheel practiced and played at Firestone South, a course he has never before played. He did win a tournament in college at Indiana on one of Firestone's other two courses - by 10 strokes.

When Micheel walked onto the practice range, his colleagues gave him a champion's welcome.

"Players were coming up to him to offer their congratulations," Gralitzer said.

Micheel's two-stroke victory on Sunday over Chad Campbell at Oak Hill Country Club and his 7-iron to two inches on the 18th hole continue to be the talk of the PGA Tour. It was Micheel's first victory on Tour in 164 career starts.

"I watched the whole of the back nine," NEC defending champion Craig Parry told the media in Akron. "I thought it was riveting golf . . . a great event to watch. The people that didn't watch it really missed out."

Micheel has talked about how Ben Curtis's stunning victory as a qualifier at the British Open last month inspired him in his chase for the PGA title.

"The last shot he hit on 18 was unbelievable," Curtis said at his press conference on Tuesday in Akron. "Everybody dreams of hitting a shot like that and he did it. I applaud him for that and I congratulate him for sticking up and fighting until the end."

Curtis's victory created one major complication. Because he was previously not eligible to play the NEC, he and his fiancee, Candace, had already sent out invitations for their Saturday wedding.

Curtis is from Columbus, Ohio, so the couple decided that Curtis would play in the tournament and go ahead with the wedding. The wedding is set for 5 p.m. but could be delayed if Curtis has a late tee time.

"It's going to be a nerve-wracking day," Curtis said.

Curtis has learned to deal with the newfound fame that comes with winning a major, and Micheel is learning about the good and bad side of it.

The good: Backstage at Tuesday night's KISS concert with front-row tickets. PGA Tour productions followed Micheel around and will air a piece on him Sunday morning.

"He had an incredible time," Gralitzer said. "Words can't describe it."

Gralitzer estimates that the win at the PGA is "worth millions" in terms of endorsement contracts, outings and appearance fees at tournaments overseas. However, Micheel and his wife, Stephanie, are expecting a boy to arrive on Nov. 28, right in the heart of the so-called Silly Season, where much of that money can be made.

"He's going to be inundated with offers," Gralitzer said. "My first words to him were, 'You have to think about yourself, about Stephanie and the baby.'

"There's only so many days Shaun Micheel has."

 

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