- The Washington Times - Monday, April 13, 2009

AUGUSTA, GA. (AP) - The last time he came up short at a major, Chad Campbell at least knew he’d been beaten by a great shot.

This time, he beat himself.

Campbell was eliminated in the first hole of a playoff with Angel Cabrera and Kenny Perry at the Masters on Sunday when he found sand from the 18th fairway, then watched as his 6-foot par putt lipped out. While Campbell hugged his crying wife, Cabrera and Perry strolled past him on their way to the 10th tee.

Cabrera beat Perry on the second playoff hole.

“I missed a lot of opportunities out there, but I take a lot of positives away from it,” a subdued Campbell said. “I played well all week, and I feel good about it. Obviously, I’m a little upset right now, but in the end, there will be a lot of positives taken from it.”

Right now, though, it just hurts.

Back at the PGA Championship in 2003, Campbell trailed playing partner Shaun Micheel by a stroke on the 18th hole at Oak Hill. While Micheel’s tee shot sailed left and landed in the first cut of rough, Campbell’s landed in the fairway. Make a birdie, and he just might force a playoff.

But Micheel put a 7-iron a mere 2 inches from the hole from 175 yards out. That is what’s called a “gimme,” and Campbell would have had to hole out just to tie.

He didn’t, of course, finishing two strokes behind Micheel. Since then, the guy once hailed by Sports Illustrated as the next great American player hadn’t done much of anything. His biggest claim to “fame,” in fact, might have come in January, when he realized on the flight to the Sony Open that he’d forgotten to sign up for the tournament.

But on Sunday, Campbell had another chance to live up to his hype.

Perry seemed to have the green jacket wrapped up when he birdied 16 to go two strokes up on Campbell and Cabrera. But when Perry bogeyed 17 and missed a 15-footer for par on 18, Campbell _ watching on TV in the scorer’s shed _ had another chance.

He stepped out 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, who was watching from behind the green, doubled over.

“Neither one of them are very good,” Campbell said when asked to compare which hurt worse, the PGA or the Masters. “I’m probably a little more disappointed this time because I hit a lot of good shots on the last hole. I’ll take the 18th hole there at the PGA. I hit a good shot in there and I just got beat by a better shot.

“And today, I kind of blew it myself.”

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