Even now, 20 years down the road, the thrill lingers. A sticky, late-summer Sunday at Valhalla Golf Club on the outskirts of Louisville, Ky. Tiger Woods, having won the two previous major championships, is chasing a third in a row at the PGA Championship. Bob May, a SoCal kid Woods sought to emulate years earlier, has arrived like an uninvited guest at one of history’s intersections.
It was as unlikely as it was unforgettable.
Two decades later, most of us know the story the way we recognize parts of The Godfather.
May holing a 15-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole, watching as it slowly weaved back and forth before tumbling in, forcing Woods to hole a 4-footer to go into a three-hole playoff. Woods, on the first extra hole, pointing his birdie putt in the hole, practically sprinting behind his ball like a wave chasing a swimmer to the shore.
And, finally, the sense when it was over and Woods had won his fifth career major and was three-quarters to the Tiger Slam, that this one was different.
The 2020 PGA Championship would have been played this week under normal circumstances. Since we are under anything but normal circumstances, it’s as good a time as any to look back at the PGA that remains seared into the minds of all who saw it.
It wasn’t necessary to be on site at Valhalla to feel it – the buzz was transmitted around the world – but being there was like seeing the Grand Canyon in person for the first time. It’s almost too big.
Walking away that Sunday as the sun set and the impact of the drama burrowed deeper inside, it was like leaving a concert that no one wanted to end, the music still thumping inside you.
Two decades on, it’s still there.
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