A Crash Course In An All-Time Classic
July 30, 2014
"The Passing Of The Torch"
Tiger Woods played with Jack Nicklaus the first two days at Valhalla, a course designed by Nicklaus. Woods was coming off blowout wins at both the U.S. Open (15 shots at Pebble Beach) and British Open (eight shots at St. Andrews). Nicklaus was making his final PGA Championship appearance.
Tiger And Vijay... Smiling?
Oh yeah, Woods and Nicklaus were joined by Vijay Singh, who won that year's Masters. We show you this photo because it might be the only picture of Woods and Singh enjoying each other's company on the golf course.
Woods Starts Strong. Obviously.
Woods opened with 66, topping Nicklaus and Singh by 11 shots and grabbing a share of the opening lead with . . . wait, why don't you take a guess? In fact, we'll give you 50 guesses and you won't get it. Make that 100 guesses. OK, you'll never get it. The answer is . . .
Scott Dunlap? Yep, Scott Dunlap. Dunlap, who never won on the PGA Tour, remained in second place after 36 and 54 holes, but fell to T-9 with a final-round 75. Still, it turned out to be the best major championship finish of his career.
Tiger's (Old) Team
Look at that smiling trio of Tiger, Steve Williams, and Butch Harmon. They're going to win a LOT of tournaments and be together FOREVER! Oh. Right.
Jack Being Jack
Nicklaus gave the Valhalla gallery one final thrill on Friday, nearly holing out his third shot on the par-5 18th hole to make the cut. Alas, his closing birdie had him one shot short of making it to the weekend.
Colin Montgomerie made the cut, but only finished T-39 to extend his drought in majors that never ended. We show him because at the time, Monty was a big deal. He entered the week at No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Style In 2000
Woods wore much baggier clothes back then. It also appears that Nike's "Dri-Fit" technology has come a long way since 2000. Then again, it's August in Kentucky.
Technology In 2000
Look, there's Lee Janzen talking on a cell phone. They had cell phones back in 2000? That's cool, but I bet he couldn't take a selfie and then tweet it with that thing. Rough.
Hold everything. Tiger took a drop in the second round of a major championship?! Did he do it right? Maybe that's what Janzen was calling about. . .
Tiger Was Still Human
Contrary to popular belief, Tiger Woods didn't hit every shot perfectly in 2000. Nor did Tiger Woods make every putt that year. However, his Friday 67 was good enough to take the 36-hole lead in his pursuit of a third straight major.
Tom Watson was already making noise as a senior golfer in 2000. Then 50, Watson matched a Valhalla competitive course record with a Saturday 65.
Going Low At Valhalla
Watson was topped later that day by Jose Maria Olazabal's 63. Yeah, you can go low at Valhalla. But there wasn't a lot of noise being made by other big names. The top 5 on the leader board after Woods through 54 holes were Dunlap, Bob May, J.P. Hayes, and Greg Chalmers. Not exactly a who's who of golf. Although fans were about to get to know May a lot better. . .
Where Did Bob May Come From?
OK, time to focus on May (left) and Woods. Why? Because nobody else wound up mattering in the final round. A second-straight 66 earned the journeyman a spot in the final pairing with Woods on Sunday. May was fortunate to even have a spot in the tournament. Ranked No. 48 in the OWGR, he was given a special exemption by the PGA. Most people thought May would be an afterthought by Sunday evening, but he just wouldn't go away.
No, Bob May really wouldn't go away. Trailing by one entering the final round, May caught Woods by the turn, setting up one of the all-time back-nine battles in golf history.
Tiger was stretching with this final-round shirt.
Is This Really Happening?
Both Woods and May shot 31 (five under) on the back nine. 31! On the back nine at a major on a Sunday! Still tied on No. 18, May rolled in a double-breaker from about 20 feet for birdie. Never a winner on the PGA Tour before or after, May now had one hand on the Wanamaker Trophy. . .
No, Tiger Is Happening
But Woods responded with a clutch birdie putt of his own from seven feet. OK, so he didn't used to make every putt, but it sure seemed like it.
This was the first three-hole aggregate playoff in PGA Championship history (Thomas Bjorn finished five shots back in third place) and on the first, Valhalla's 16th, May finally looked like he might crumble. But after two shaky shots, he hit a pitch shot from an awful lie about 50 yards away to within a couple inches of the hole to set up a remarkable par. You probably don't remember that brilliant shot because of what happened next. . .
Tiger Being Tiger
This 25-foot birdie putt and memorable celebration gave Woods a one-shot lead. Again, Woods' putting. Wow. Do yourself a favor and re-watch this thrilling sequence.
Not So Fast...
But things wouldn't go as smoothly playing No. 18 for a second time. Still holding a one-shot lead, Woods hooked a 3-wood way left that seemed to disappear among the trees and high grass for a few seconds before bouncing out into the rough. He recovered, however, to make par thanks to a great fourth shot from a greenside bunker.
The Legend Grows
When May's last gasp birdie putt from 30 feet and over a huge ridge curled just below the hole, Woods had won his fifth major championship and a third straight. Of course, he'd go on to win the 2001 Masters to cap the Tiger Slam.
Only two men have ever been 18 under par at the PGA Championship. Only one of those men has won. Sorry, Bob. Yeah, we'd say that duel deserved more than your typical handshake.