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Las Vegas resident Bob May reflects on PGA loss to Tiger Woods

In 2018, the PGA of America voted the 2000 PGA Championship the best rendition in the major’s 100-year history. That happened to be the year Tiger Woods and Las Vegas resident Bob May went toe-to-toe in a playoff.

Woods was at the peak of his powers, but the relatively unknown May, who will play in the Senior PGA Championship this week at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, New York, pushed him to the brink. May shot a final round 66 to force a playoff with Woods, who shot 67.

The playoff was a three-hole aggregate score and Woods birdied the first extra hole. When May made three pars, Woods clinched the third of four majors during his epic “Tiger Slam,” and May was left to ponder a “What if?” for the ages.

“I look at it as an honor and it isn’t agonizing at all,” May said. “It’s not like I hit a bad shot or gave it to him. He outplayed me. I beat him in the final round, but when you are giving the best player in the world a one-shot lead, it’s difficult to win.

“That was a big part of my career and is what most people remember me from, stepping up and pushing Tiger to the limit. Both of us were on our games and people still remember it like it was yesterday.”

May and Woods also have back injuries in common, but this year both are having success in spite of those challenges. Woods’ success is more high profile, but May has quietly earned $34,109 on the PGA Tour Champions, good for 81st on the money list. He earned a spot in this week’s Senior PGA, but prior to that tournament organizers awarded him a sponsor’s exemption.

“The nice thing about it is they showed faith in me and think I can play at a high level,” May said. “Healthwise, I felt great until a couple weeks ago when I wrenched my back practicing. That was the first hiccup I have had since my last back surgery two years ago.

“The hardest thing I have dealt with is I had a herniated disc in my neck and lost feeling in my right arm. I had that fixed about a year ago. Thank God I got my arm working again. I only have about 50 percent of the strength back, but I am still playing well.”

This summer, May, a 2013 Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame inductee, plans to compete in PGA Tour Champions and European Senior PGA tournaments and continue teaching at TPC Las Vegas.

Kruger, coaches hit $5 million

Former UNLV and current Oklahoma basketball coach Lon Kruger and a couple dozen coaches played Shadow Creek, Southern Highlands and Topgolf on Monday and Tuesday during the 12th annual Coaches vs. Cancer Las Vegas Golf Classic. The total raised is more than $5 million.

Other coaches that participated in some or all of the festivities included TJ Otzelberger, UNLV; Dana Altman, Oregon; Roy Williams, North Carolina; Jim Boeheim, Syracuse; and Fred Hoiberg, Nebraska.

The golf notebook appears Wednesdays. Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt is a two-time author who has covered golf in Las Vegas for more than two decades. He can be reached at bhurlburt5@gmail.com or @LVGolfInsider.

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