A gritty underdog battling Tiger Woods for the PGA Championship?
If Rich Beem's star turn at Hazeltine felt familiar, that's
because Bob May originated the role in 2000. The only difference
is that May succumbed in a playoff, and the 33-year-old has
struggled ever since. SI caught up with May at last week's
Reno-Tahoe Open, where he finished 35th, leaving him 122nd on
this year's money list.
SI: Did you watch the PGA?
BM: I saw the last five or six holes. I was busy practicing,
trying to get myself in shape for this tournament.
SI: You could've been Rich Beem.
BM: Yeah, I could have been. But instead I got second.
SI: Do you ever think about what might have been?
BM: I have, but the [five-year] exemption is the only thing that
would've changed my career, although it would've been nice to be
introduced as the PGA champion on the 1st tee every week.
SI: Are you feeling any pangs of jealousy seeing Beem become a
BM: No, not at all.
SI: Did you think that your performance at the PGA was going to
elevate you to a different stage in your career?
BM: It would have if I hadn't injured my back at the Hope at the
beginning of last year. I hit a shot, and that was it--I was out
for 10 or 11 weeks. I've got two bulging discs and am still
struggling with them now. I have no feeling in my left foot. It
tingles and feels as if it's asleep, but I've got to play to try
to keep my job.
SI: Have the fans remembered you?
BM: I get it every day. That's probably one of the few times you
can finish second and people still remember. They say, "Nothing
against Tiger, but we wish you would've won." At first it was
SI: Did the PGA help you financially?
BM: Sure. If I have to take a year off [because of the back
injury], I won't have to worry about surviving. It has taken off
a lot of pressure.
SI: Have you and Tiger talked about the tournament?
BM: No. If he wanted to talk to me about it, I wouldn't mind. We
had a great time.
SI: When was the last time you popped the tape into the VCR?
BM: I haven't watched it in more than a year. I have to move on.
I'm trying to go out and get my first victory.
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER DISTANT SECOND May almost pulled a Rich Beem at the 2000 PGA, but he has struggled ever since.