LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Tiger Woods spent his childhood in Southern California breaking many of Bob May's junior golf records. Sunday in the 82nd PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club, Woods simply broke May's heart.
In as riveting a final round as has been played or witnessed at a major championship in recent memory, Woods defeated May in a three-hole aggregate playoff by one stroke -- the difference being the 20-foot birdie Woods made on the first playoff hole.
Woods became the first player since the legendary Ben Hogan in 1953 to win three of golf's four major championships in the same year. Woods had won last month's British Open and the U.S. Open in June after finishing fifth at the Masters.
It was also the second consecutive victory in the PGA Championship for Woods, making him the first player to win back-to-back titles in 63 years and the first player ever to win four of five majors in any one stretch.
The victory, worth $900,00, was the seventh this year for Woods and the 23rd in less than four years. It was the fifth major championship of Woods' career.
"It was one memorable battle today, and I enjoyed it," said Woods, 24. "I am sure Bob did, too, and I'm sure all of you here enjoyed the same thing, because it was a very special day to have two guys playing probably at a level you don't see (in the final round of a major championship).
Their rousing five-hour battle ended when May narrowly missed a curling, 30-foot putt to save par on the third playoff hole. Woods, who had moments earlier blasted out of a greenside bunker to within a foot of the cup on the 18th green, tapped in his par putt for victory.
Unlike his victory at Pebble Beach, where he won by a major championship record 15 strokes, and his win at St. Andrews, where he won by eight strokes, Woods was pushed throughout the day by the relatively unknown May. But May, 31, knew all about Woods, having followed Woods since his celebrated amateur career.
May also recalled reading what Woods said in the local newspaper many times.
"He used to say, 'I'm going to beat Bob May's records,' " said May. "Which is pretty much what he proceeded to do. He kept on saying it, and he kept on doing it. So I was hoping that I could get a chance to get back at him."
May was only half-kidding. He nearly got that chance when Woods, who held a one-stroke lead after Saturday's third round, started slowly in their final round together, and May started quickly. From the moment Woods uncharacteristically bogeyed the par-5 second hole -- and May birdied to take a one-shot lead -- it was an uphill battle all day for Woods.
Woods trailed by two shots after six holes and after drawing even after eight, found himself behind again when May birdied the par-3 11th. But Woods, whose amateur and professional careers have been punctuated by his remarkable comebacks, never wavered. He kept himself in the match by making one putt after another and finally tied May with a birdie on the par-4 17th hole.
After May made a difficult 15-footer from the fringe behind the green on the 18th hole, the final one of regulation, Woods made his own five-footer to force a playoff.
"In majors, you just have to hang around," said Woods. "You know something is going to happen."
It finally did on the third playoff hole.
After hitting his bunker shot close to the cup and watching May narrowly miss a monstrous putt, Woods calmly tapped in for par. He hugged his caddie, Steve Williams, and then hugged May. While the crowd had seemed to favor the underdog May throughout the afternoon, it roared its approval for Woods afterward.
They spelled out his name -- "Give me a T ... Give me an I ..." -- as he lifted the Wanamaker Trophy over his head for the second straight year.
Yesterday's shootout with May was reminiscent of the one-stroke win by Woods in the same tournament last year over Sergio Garcia of Spain -- only better. May shot a final-round of 6-under-par 66, and both he and Woods played the back nine in 5-under 31.
Reminded of his comeback victory over Steve Scott four years ago to win his third straight U.S. Amateur, Woods said, "That was a pretty good comeback, but today was probably more special because we both played well at the same time."
May, who played the past three years on the European Tour after failing to qualify for the PGA Tour, earned $540,000 in defeat and a great deal of respect.
"If I would have won today, it would have been a dream come true," he said. "Not only to win, but he may be when he is done the best player ever. I went head-to-head with him."
Asked if he felt as if he had won, "I don't feel like I won," May said. "Obviously, if I would have won, I'd have a different feeling. I played a good solid round of golf. I just fell a little short."
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