May makes his move to check Woods' march

USPGA Championship: World No 1 shows human fallibility as unheralded American unleashes a barrage of birdies

A little over a week ago Bob May played in a pro-am prior to the British Masters, where he was the defending champion, with three golf writers who hacked their way around the Duke's Course at Woburn in typically rustic fashion. Yesterday, by stark contrast, May was playing alongside the best player in the world scenting more history and records in the final round of the 82nd USPGA Championship.

A little over a week ago Bob May played in a pro-am prior to the British Masters, where he was the defending champion, with three golf writers who hacked their way around the Duke's Course at Woburn in typically rustic fashion. Yesterday, by stark contrast, May was playing alongside the best player in the world scenting more history and records in the final round of the 82nd USPGA Championship.

But May and Tiger Woods go back a long way. Although there is seven years between them, they grew up near each other in southern California. At the age of 16, May became the youngest player ever to qualify for the LA Open. Woods, by just a few months, became the youngest to play in the event but was handed a special invitation.

In contrast to Woods, who has already won all four of the major titles by the age of 24, May, now 31, won for the first time as a professional when he came from three behind Colin Montgomerie to win at Woburn a year ago. The victory followed 22 second places as a professional and May, playing mainly on the full US Tour for the first time this season, added another runner-up finish at the St Jude Classic in Memphis last month.

May, who lives in Las Vegas, owns a number of motorcycles and speedboats and was sponsored early in his career by the actor Joe Pesci. "It is not hard to be intimidated by Tiger," May said. "He hits the ball so far and straight. He is a great player and is playing great golf. But I see Tiger walking around the locker-room laughing and joking with everybody and other people joking back with him. Usually, you don't joke around with someone if you feel intimidated by them."

May certainly did not appear intimidated. Woods, the winner of the US Open by 15 strokes and The Open by eight, soon lost his lead when he had a bogey at the par-five second hole. After missing the green on the right with his second shot, his chip rolled over the other side of the green. He chipped back to six feet and missed that. May, however, got up and down from a bunker to take the lead.

May then hit a brilliant approach from the rough at the fourth for a birdie and though he dropped a shot at the sixth, so did Woods after three putts. At that stage May led by two from Woods, Thomas Bjorn, Jose Maria Olazabal, Stuart Appleby and Scott Dunlap. Woods responded by birdieing the next two holes to draw level at the turn, but fell one behind again when May birdied the first three holes on the back nine.

Woods's troubles had started in the third round when a posture problem threw off his swing. He led by three until a double-bogey at the 12th when, unusually, Woods played five successive shots. He got away with a 70 to lead by one from May and Dunlap, but had not exploited the good scoring conditions which saw 53 players shoot under par.

Even Tom Watson, now 50 and on the Senior Tour, briefly equalled the Valhalla course record of 65 before Olazabal lowered it by two. Olazabal became the 18th player in major championship history to score a 63.

The Spaniard, a week after shooting 81 to miss the cut at the Buick Open, went to the turn in 32 and birdied the 10th, 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th, all with short putts, such was the brilliance of his iron play. Another chance slipped by at the 17th which would have given him the new major record. "I didn't know about that," said Olazabal.He ranked the round up with his 61 at Firestone in 1990, when he won the World Series by 12 strokes. "I think this one is as good. I would take both of them as the best I have ever played."

The Spaniard is thinking of taking out his US Tour card and will play the West Coast swing at the start of next year, while Jesper Parnevik has informed the European Tour he will not play the minimum of 11 events required for membership this season. He will rejoin next year to be eligible for the next Ryder Cup at The Belfry.

But with six players from last year's team likely to be splitting their time between America and Europe - Parnevik, Olazabal, Sergio Garcia, Paul Lawrie, Jean Van de Velde and Miguel Angel Jimeñez - the captain, Sam Torrance, may be concerned that not all the players he wants to qualify automatically will do so, leaving him with a tricky decision on wild cards.

Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood both moved up the leaderboard with closing 67s and while Colin Montgomerie, the slimmed-down version, finished down the field, he was pleased with one aspect of the week. "I feel there has been a big change. The American gallery respected me and I enjoyed playing over here for the first time in a number of years."

SCORES FROM VALHALLA

LEADERBOARD (US unless stated)

1 Bob May -15 11 2 Tiger Woods -14 11 3 Franklin Langham -12 13 3 Thomas Bjorn -12 13 5 Jose Maria Olazabal -12 12 5. Greg Chalmers -12 12

EARLY FINAL-ROUND SCORES

279 D Clarke (GB) 68 72 72 67 280 S Cink 72 71 70 67, L Westwood (GB) 72 72 69 67 281 L Janzen 76 70 70 65, A Cabrera (Argentina) 72 71 71 67 282 S Jones 72 71 70 69, J Sandelin (Swe) 74 72 68 68 283 B Faxon 71 74 70 68, S Kendall 72 72 69 70, T Pernice 74 69 70 70 284 K Perry 78 68 70 68, M Weir (Can) 76 69 68 71, J Van de Velde (Fr) 70 74 69 71 285 M Calcavecchia 73 74 71 67, E Els (SA) 74 68 72 71, B McCallister 73 71 70 71, C Perry 72 74 70 69, S Garcia (Sp) 74 69 73 69 286 C Montgomerie (GB) 74 72 70 70, T Izawa (Jap) 73 73 71 69 287 J Leonard 73 73 71 70, S Pate 75 70 74 68, J Sluman 73 69 72 73, P Stankowski 75 72 68 72, D Toms 72 6872 75 288 B Henninger 70 74 71 73, B Langer (Ger) 75 69 73 71, S Maruyama (Japan) 77 69 71 71, M O'Meara 71 72 70 75, D Waldorf 75 70 71 72 289 A Coltart (GB) 74 71 73 71, G Day 76 71 71 71, N Faldo (GB) 79 68 69 73, J Kaye 69 74 71 75, S Lowery 73 74 73 69, J Parnevik (Sweden) 72 74 70 73, B Watts 72 74 73 70, J Ogilvie 73 73 71 72 290 P Harrington (Ire) 75 72 69 74, D Paulson 72 75 70 73, L Roberts 74 72 71 73, C Strange 72 70 76 72, C Franco (Para) 72 74 74 70 291 B Glasson 73 74 71 73, W Grady (Aus) 71 74 68 78, JHaas 73 74 68 76, C Stadler 74 69 71 77, M A Jimenez (Sp) 70 77 74 70 292 G Kraft 71 73 75 73, K Triplett 76 71 73 72 293 J Huston 75 72 74 72 294 J Furyk 74 71 74 75, P Lawrie (GB) 75 71 73 75 297 R Damron 72 74 81 70, S Hoch 73 70 75 79, B Mayfair 74 73 76 74 299 R Sabbatini (SA) 74 71 76 78 300 Jumbo Ozaki (Japan) 74 71 76 79 301 H Tanaka (Japan) 72 73 77 79 313 F Dobbs 75 72 88 78

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