- The Washington Times - Monday, August 21, 2000

LOUISVILLE, Ky. Golf's gargantuan gutted his way into Grand Slam history again.
Tiger Woods claimed his record-tying third major championship of the season and the fifth of his career at Valhalla Golf Club yesterday, grinding home a must-make, 6-foot putt at the 72nd hole and then edging journeyman Bob May by one stroke in a playoff at the 82nd PGA Championship. by one stroke in a playoff at the 82nd PGA Championship.
"That's pretty serious company," said Woods after matching Ben Hogan, who became the first player to win three major championships in one year when he won the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open in 1953.
The 24-year-old Woods came to Valhalla on a roll of major routs after winning the U.S. Open and British Open by a total of 23 strokes. And when he began the day yesterday with a one-stroke lead over May and Scott Dunlap, a pair of players without a PGA Tour victory between them, most of the golfing world expected a Sunday surge from Woods and another comfortable victory.
But unlike the other players who have spent the summer pursuing Woods, May refused to simply serve as a spectator for another Woods walkover.
Playing in front of the massive galleries that always accompany Woods and his prey, May fired a third consecutive 66 on the 7,167-yard, par-72 layout. The 31-year-old California native swapped master strokes and clutch putts with Woods all day, as the two pulled away from the field in a golfing version of the Kentucky Derby.
"We never backed off one another," said Woods, who combined with May to play the final 12 holes of the championship 11-under, with neither player making a bogey down the stretch. "Birdie for birdie, shot for shot, that's as good as it gets."
The battle reached its crescendo at the 72nd hole of the event.
Both Woods and May reached the par-5, 18th hole in two shots but faced diabolical putts. May played first from 60 feet, racing his lag putt 15 feet past the hole. Playing from the opposite side of the horseshoe-shaped green, Woods coasted his 30-foot eagle putt 6 feet high and past the hole. With the whole world watching and nobody expecting more heroics from May, the stocky seven-year PGA Tour veteran fired one final desperate salvo at Woods. When May's treacherous, double-breaking downhill putt trickled home, Woods was placed in a must-make position in order to force a playoff.
As he has throughout his amateur and professional career, Woods responded with remarkable resolve under pressure, just catching the left lip to send the huge gallery around Valhalla's 18th green into absolute hysteria.
The three-hole playoff (Nos. 16 to 18) started in much the same way, Woods lipping in a 20-foot birdie putt to take a lead he would never relinquish. Both players recorded somewhat sloppy pars on the final two holes of the playoff, and Woods cemented his victory by blasting a bunker shot to within a foot on the 18th hole.
Woods' win at the PGA completed a season in which he set or tied a slew of major championship standards. At the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, he recorded the lowest total in relation to par (12-under) in the history of the event in defeating Ernie Els by a major championship-record margin of 15 strokes.
At last month's British Open at St. Andrews, he became the youngest player to complete the career Grand Slam, winning all four majors two years ahead of Jack Nicklaus' pace. He also set the major championship scoring record at St. Andrews, reaching an outrageous 19-under. Then, at Valhalla, Woods matched Hogan's trifecta, while he and May took down the PGA Championship scoring record, both finishing 72 holes at 18-under.
Two weeks ago, the legendary Sam Snead, who won more PGA Tour events than any player in history (81), was asked where he would rank Woods' season should he win the PGA Championship.
"You'd have to say that would be the best ever," Snead said. "Hogan had a great year, but he only had to beat about a dozen guys. All these guys today can play, and Woods has beaten them all and made it look easy."

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