Sports Illustrated will announce its choice for Sportsman of the Year on Dec. 4. Below are some personal choices for that honor by SI writers.
11/30/2006 03:43:00 PM
My Sportsman: Tiger Woods
It was a year full of drama for Tiger Woods, from remarkable wins to stunning losses, from pure joy to unbearable pain.
By Gary Van Sickle
There is little left to say about Tiger Woods. Not even Roget has any unused superlatives in its Thesaurus to describe him. The man is a driven golfing genius, simple as that.
If 2001 was Tiger's best year, a signature season that featured the Tiger Slam (four concurrent major titles) and lopsided margins of victory, '06 may have been Tiger's most remarkable year. Brilliant victories. Infinite sadness. A stunning streak. Raw emotion. As a golfer, his game never looked better. As a man, he never looked more real and we saw him in new ways:
Tiger the Mourner: After his father, Earl, lost a long battle with cancer, Tiger took two months off to absorb the loss. When Tiger returned at the U.S. Open, he clearly wasn't physically or mentally ready. He missed the cut and looked lost.
Tiger the Transformed: Tiger's year had two halves -- before and after the Western Open in July. It was during that tournament at Cog Hill that swing changes he'd been working on with Hank Haney finally clicked. A Sunday charge by Woods left him second to Trevor Immelman. He once again looked like the Tiger of old, and soon served notice.
Tiger the Son: Woods left driver in the bag and conservatively dominated Royal Liverpool with a clinical display of long-iron shotmaking that was one for the ages. We saw his most human side after the last putt when he melted into tears on caddie Steve Williams' shoulder and couldn't stop crying. This win, more than all of the others, was for Earl.
Tiger the Triumphant: It felt eerily familiar when Woods won the PGA Championship at Medinah for a second time. It was his 12th major title and signaled his return to dominance. His march to break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors now seems merely a matter of time.
Tiger the Resilient: Woods bounced back from an embarrassing Ryder Cup loss inlate September and won the American Express Championship the following week near London, leading wire-to-wire for his sixth consecutive PGA Tour victory and becoming the first player to win eight times in three different seasons. With tournament sites in early '07 where he has multiple wins in the past -- Kapalua, Torrey Pines, Doral and Bay Hill -- Byron Nelson's record of 11 straight victories, long considered untouchable, is within his reach.
Woods would be the first to win Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year three times. In 2006, Woods continued to do things no one else has. He turns 31 in December and, obviously, isn't done yet.
Tiger vs Federer argument is easy. Tigers the man, they cant federer proof a tennis court. federer isnt changing the game of tennis. theres no federertennis07. im guessing far more rounds of golf will be played a year than matches of tennis, and more people can relate to that. granted federer is the best tennis player of his generation, but tennis is a top10 sport of that generation.