May's Day

May’s Day

Bob May shot a final-round 66 to force a playoff with Tiger Woods at the 2000 PGA Championship.
Marc Feldman/

The night before I went out
with friends and my mom
and dad and I had a great
marinated rib eye. We went
back to the house and went to bed
probably around 10:30 or so. I was
staying with some people whom I’d
met through a friend in Memphis. My
wife hadn’t made the trip because our
second child was due in a few weeks.

I wore khaki pants and a shirt
that matched. I think it was beige,
patterned. It was clean and it was in my
suitcase. A writer said I looked drab and
boring. I guess I was supposed to wear
pink pants.

I was nervous on the first tee on
Sunday. I’ll bet Tiger’s nervous on the
first tee, too. I think he was in the top
two in every category that year, and
nobody drove the ball longer and

I was very confident with my irons. In
my mind I could hit first all day and put
the pressure on him, because I sure as
heck wasn’t going to do that in a driving
contest. I knew we were going to play
two different golf courses, and on the
first hole I thought he’d pulled his tee
shot. There was a tree 276 yards out, but
he was trying to go over it. His ball kept
rising. Mine landed somewhere near
the base of it.

Both of us grew up in Southern
California, so we were familiar with
each other’s games, which might have
helped me. We never got to compete
against each other because I’m seven
years older, but I had a lot of junior
records he was chasing and broke.
I think he knew that I was a good
player. I was playing some good golf, too. I had just defended at the British
Masters, finished in the top 10. I was
very confident.

I don’t know if I buy into the idea
that I had nothing to lose. No one ever
has anything to lose. People put that
pressure on themselves because of the
size of the gallery or whatever. The way
I look at it is that the fans are out there
because they can’t do what you do,
and they want to see you perform. I
think if you think about it that way it
eases your mind.

I never got sucked into it, but there
were some shots I remember like
yesterday. He hit a 2-iron from like 260
on 10 that was so high it was a joke.
They picked it up at the airport
probably. It ended up just short of the
green, hit the top of a bunker and rolled
back. His drive on 17 in regulation play
was just enormous. Almost at its peak it
kind of disappeared, then reappeared
on the way down.

We talked pretty much the first nine
holes, but on the back nine we went
into our zones. It wasn’t a two-man race
until after 12. We both birdied 10, I
birdied 11, we both birdied 12. We were
separating from the rest of the field.

I never looked at a leaderboard until
I went to hit my second putt on 18. It
was about 15 feet and I wanted to know
how hard I could hit it. We were five
shots clear of the field.

In the end, I didn’t get caught up in
his game. I kept to my game plan; I’d
played well the previous two days and
the conditions were about the same
Sunday. I didn’t play Tiger, I played the
course, but I also never felt comfortable
that I had him beat.

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