Interview with Bob May

July 27, 2008
PGA TOUR staff

MARK WILLIAMS: Through the back nine this afternoon, looks like you were on fire now.

BOB MAY: Yeah, I've been hitting the ball pretty well. Just the practice greens are so much faster than the greens on the course. So you're just waiting for that one putt that you're going to hit that's going to take off like on the practice green, and I just kept on leaving them short all day today.

Today could have really been a day that I could have maybe made a big charge, because I left so many putts just short that were pretty reasonable putts to be made.

MARK WILLIAMS: Seems like the greens were a little firmer yesterday, too. Were they the same today?

BOB MAY: Yeah, I think they were about the same today. I wish we played more golf courses with real firm greens like this. It requires the player to think a little bit instead of just firing right at the pin. You kind of have to take into consideration, the mounds, and a lot of things, and you just can't shoot at every pin out here.

MARK WILLIAMS: And you're 26th on the Money List, obviously looking for a good finish tomorrow to jump right in there and get more comfortable.

BOB MAY: Yeah, I'm 26th, there's still a lot of tournaments left. I just want to play a good, solid round of golf tomorrow, and if it's good enough, that's great, and if it's not, we'll go on to next week.

MARK WILLIAMS: I have to ask you about your caddie this week. I guess he's your business manager. How did that all work out?

BOB MAY: Well, he's been wanting to do this for a while, and so we picked this week. I finally got him to commit. He says he's going to do it and he keeps on chickening out so we finally got him nailed down, you know, it's a short drive for him.

MARK WILLIAMS: Looks like he's done a pretty good job. Might want to keep him on.

BOB MAY: Yeah, he's doing all right.

Q. What's his name?

BOB MAY: Tom Bertsch.

Q. The back surgery you had, what did it entail?

BOB MAY: Let's see what did it entail, from Byron Nelson of 2003 until TOUR School of 2005; so almost, since December, I didn't play any pretty competitive golf. Never touched a club for many three years.

Started hitting balls two weeks before, maybe three weeks before TOUR School in 2005, so I almost went three years without playing golf.

Q. Lower back?

BOB MAY: Lower back starting at L3 going to S1. I had to have spinal stenosis. They had to go in and widen my spinal nerve canal out.

Q. (Inaudible).

BOB MAY: Oh, it could have been, sure. I think there's like a ten percent chance of being paralyzed in a surgery like that. I had no feeling in my feet by the end of the day. Left foot, I could hardly move my toes. Lost function in my toes which I'm now getting back, so it was pretty bad.

Q. Must be pretty rewarding playing the way you are this year.

BOB MAY: I'm just happy to be back playing golf and playing pain-free.

MARK WILLIAMS: After all that happened, did it give you a different attitude?

BOB MAY: Well, it does. You get caught up out there and you start playing golf and when you do have a little success like I did, and you start making a decent amount of money, and you get caught up in that, and you really lose why we play golf. And I realize I played golf when I got injured, and it was taken from me, not a choice of leaving.

I realize that, you know what, I played the game because I loved the game. When I took it up as a kid, you can make a decent living, but you weren't going to get Rich and wealthy, unless you were a superstar.

Now, the game has gotten big, and you can make a nice living. But I think that a lot of players have kind of forgot why they play golf, I think. That's my perspective. I learned that I play golf because I love golf. If I wasn't playing golf professionally, I would be involved in some way.

Q. Being an hour away from home --

BOB MAY: Yeah, we would drive up to Bel Air Country Club to see Eddie Merrins. We would do it every Sunday from about the age of 12 until, gosh, I got out of college. We would drive up and go see him, and I worked with him and Tom Sargent, who was the head pro at the club I grew up at. Because the NCAA rules wouldn't let me work with Eddie Merrins, so Tom Sargent filled that gap while I was being recruited, and I've worked with both of them since.

Q. Working with Tom Sargent --

BOB MAY: I don't think so. I believe not, no.

Q. Let me ask you about the golf course a little bit. How much do the golf courses prepare the players for major championship golf -- (inaudible).

BOB MAY: Yes, I would love to see us play more courses with greens that are hard like this. A prime example is Memphis. On the TOUR, Memphis would usually take about 18- to 20-under to win. All they changed on Memphis -- actually they may have lengthened a couple of holes that didn't matter. They made the 8th hole easier, the greens wider, not as steep, you see a skinny green, not a hard green to hit, they made it wider there. And the only thing they changed other than that is the texture. They went to a Champions Bermuda green that is firm, hard and you look at what the scores were the last three years, and it went from 18- to 20-under to all of a sudden five, six, four, and I think 8-under; Woody Austin went crazy, not last year, but the year before last. But it's been single digits have been winning there, and it's all because of the greens.

You give us firm, hard greens, guys just can't throw it at the pins; they have to think, and that's why majors are usually so tough. I understand there's a lot of rough at the majors, but the greens being tough, you just can't throw it out there at the pin all the time.

You know, I understand that unfortunately the weather hasn't cooperated with us. I'm sure that at Pete Dye, they would have loved to play the golf course firm and hard, but heck, they had 20 inches of rain in the last month there or something stupid like that, so it wasn't their fault.

Some of these golf courses, we can't say it's their fault because Mother Nature comes in. But if Mother Nature is not a factor, it would be great if we could really firm the golf course up and play a firm, hard, fast golf course. I shouldn't say "they"; I think the general public, because I think the TOUR agrees, too. I think the general public thinks the longer the course, the tougher, and that's not necessarily the case.

I think the longer harder, the faster, the golf course is, the tougher it is, because now you start hitting shots into the doglegs, and it's hard to keep the ball from running through the fairway into the trees. So short, hard and fast is a prime example. I mean, look at Colonial, that's not a long golf course but it's firm and hard and the scores are not that low.

So I wish people would get away from saying, well, just make the golf courses longer. Doesn't matter how long the golf course is; if the greens are soft, we are going to get it to the pin.

MARK WILLIAMS: Several players yesterday made the same comment about firm greens, and just have to look at the scores that were here yesterday, and you know, probably there weren't that many low scores and that's because the greens were a lot firmer yesterday.

BOB MAY: Yeah, I think there's a -- to a point you don't want them too firm. Yesterday I hit an L-wedge into No. 12 that landed eight feet short of the hole and it was six paces behind it, and my ball never landed on the green again. That's a little carried away.

If one green is hard, I'd like to see all 18 of them about the same, because there is a couple soft ones out there. I hit some today, and all of the sudden the ball is screwing back at me, and I'm like, whoa, whoa, I'm playing for it to kick forward. But I do like the golf course hard and fast. I think it tests the players.

MARK WILLIAMS: Well, thanks for coming in. You've got yourself in a good position for tomorrow and good luck.

BOB MAY: Well, thank you.