Good news, bad news for DiMarco

Updated: August 16, 2004, 8:30 AM ET
By Bob Harig | Special to ESPN.com

HAVEN, Wis. -- The good news is Chris DiMarco played his way onto the U.S. Ryder Cup team. The bad news is Chris DiMarco let slip away a chance to win a major championship.

Chris Dimarco
Getty ImagesDespite missing out on his first major championship, DiMarco was upbeat afterwards.

Afterward, DiMarco seemed far more upbeat about the former, far less disappointed about the latter.

It's certainly hard to criticize the former University of Florida golfer, who entered the final round of Sunday's PGA Championship at Whistling Straits five shots out of the lead, and seemingly out of contention with rock-solid Vijay Singh out in front.

But one day, DiMarco might wake up and realize how close he came to winning one of golf's ultimate prizes.

For a guy who has just three PGA Tour victories, who will soon turn 36, such chances do not present themselves very often.

"I felt very much in control of my game," DiMarco said. "I was hitting my irons phenomenal. I was driving the ball very good and I was making all of the 5-footers and in, which you need to do."

But when the final hole rolled around, DiMarco had a 15-foot birdie putt that would have won the tournament. And he left it short.

"I just didn't hit it," he said. "It was dead center, too. I putted really good all week. You know, unfortunately, one short. It's nice to be in a major championship with a chance to win, though."

Last week, DiMarco blew a chance to win the International when he played poorly on the weekend in Colorado.

He came into the PGA 15th in the U.S. Ryder Cup team standings, with virtually no one talking about him. He used that as motivation.

"I'm proud of myself that I went out and did it and got it done," DiMarco said. "I had a very disappointing weekend last week, and to hang in there this weekend, put up two good scores, shoot 71 on this course on Sunday, I'm proud of myself. I had a chance on 18, left it just a hair short."

DiMarco also had a chance in a three-hole aggregate playoff, but fell behind with a par at the first hole when Singh birdied. Another par the 17th hole, the second playoff hole, still gave him a chance at the brutal par-4 18th. But DiMarco missed the green, and when Singh parred, the tournament was over.

It wasn't as tough to take as it must have been for Justin Leonard, who led by two on the back nine at one point. DiMarco was the chaser, and wouldn't have had a chance were it not for the high scores posted by Singh (76) and Leonard (75).

But when given the chance, he couldn't convert.

DiMarco was tied for the lead, then bogeyed the 15th and 16th holes. He figured he was out of the tournament and started thinking about the Ryder Cup.

"The holes coming in were brutally tough,'' DiMarco said. "You had to hit fairways, and unfortunately, I missed two fairways coming in and resulted in bogeys.

"Once I made that par on 17 and hit my driver in the fairway on 18 and hit my 6-iron on the green, I looked at my caddie and said, "That's good enough for sure.""

Good enough for the Ryder Cup.

But not good enough to win the PGA.

Bob Harig covers golf for the St. Petersburg Times and is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at harig@sptimes.com.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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