Woods: Tiger's tale
Golf guru Tiger Woods cruised to a landmark season, winning nine U.S. PGA tour events, the most of any player in the last half-century. He also became the first player since 1953 to capture in the same year three of the four major PGA golfing titles, including the British Open, the PGA Championship, and the U.S. Open-blowing away his nearest competitor in that contest by a lead of 15 strokes. Mr. Woods also exploded the PGA Tour season earnings record of $6,616,585 (which he set himself in 1999), receiving $9,188,321 (plus tens of millions more for product endorsements). Williams and Knight: A tale of two coaches
Two college basketball stories this year managed to dribble off the sports page and onto the front page. Both involved high-profile coaches, but that was all they had in common. In July, Kansas Jayhawks coach Roy Williams turned down what he had long called his "dream job": head coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels, the second winningest program in college hoops history (behind Kentucky). The reason: loyalty. "I couldn't trade my players," said Mr. Williams, a North Carolina native and former assistant coach for the Tar Heels. "That became more important than my dream of being at North Carolina." So he stayed at Kansas, the third winningest program in history, and North Carolina tapped Notre Dame coach Matt Doherty, Mr. Williams's former assistant at Kansas. Another of college basketball's marquee programs had a coaching change in September, but under very different circumstances. Indiana Hoosiers coach Bob Knight lost his job after he lost his temper and apparently grabbed a student who he said greeted him disrespectfully. Mr. Knight led the Hoosiers to three NCAA championships during his 29-year career, but he was known as much for throwing chairs and scuffling with fans as he was for winning. Before the September incident, Indiana University president Miles Band had placed Mr. Knight under a "zero tolerance" policy after allegations surfaced that the coach had once choked a player. Martin: Overcoming tough circumstances
Casey Martin finished 179th on the PGA money list this year-178 spots below his college teammate, Tiger Woods-but he has become an inspiration to those born with a birth defect. Mr. Martin suffers from Klippel-Trenaunay-Webber syndrome, a defect in his right leg in which the veins fail to pump blood to the leg. He walks with constant pain in his leg and must wear a strong support stocking just to keep the swelling down. Needing to use a golf cart to make it around 18 holes, Mr. Martin challenged and won the right to use a cart despite the PGA Tour's longstanding ban against carts for its players. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court ruling, but the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to rule on the case. "I pray a lot about my situation," Mr. Martin told WORLD: "I see God's hand in this and this is where He wants me to be." Convinced that his ailment and battle are part of a larger plan, he feels "totally dependent" on Christ and is convinced that "God is up to something here." Harrisons: Living a dream
Alvin and Calvin Harrison, identical twins, have rejoiced in track's highest honor and shared tremendous pain and trials. Following a tumultuous childhood, they left Florida for California, where they lived in their car for a time. After Alvin qualified for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the brothers' sister was murdered. In 1997, the grandmother who raised them died. They lived on 99-cent Whoppers, Ritz crackers, and their friends' kindness. Yet last September, the brothers mounted the winner's stand in Sydney to accept gold medals in the 4x400-meter relay. "This is something we dreamed about 365 days a year," Calvin Harrison told WORLD. "It's emotional and overwhelming to achieve a dream and a vision. It has boosted my faith and made me believe in God even more." He said that both brothers felt "the presence of God" in the car where they lived: "He gives us a mind and direction that we must take seriously. You've got to act on it. It's never going to be easy." Pettitte: Staying grounded
In six seasons with the New York Yankees, left-handed pitching ace Andy Pettitte has won 100 games, including 19 during the 2000 season. The New York media and fans are known as destroyers of ballplayers' confidence, but "with the faith background I have I stay grounded," Mr. Pettitte told WORLD: "I feel like the Lord has blessed me with talent and I want to honor and glorify Him." The Texan likes playing in New York and being part of the Yankees' three consecutive world championship seasons. "We know it's got to end sooner or later," Mr. Pettitte said. "We've been resilient and able to handle things. We don't care what people think or write about us." Perspective is important: "I love playing baseball, but baseball is not that important. If it ended today I'd be well-prepared to go on with life." Wilkinson: "God was with me"
Only six months after breaking three bones in her right foot, Laura Wilkinson not only battled back from two months without training to earn a spot on the Olympic team, but won the first gold medal in 10-meter platform diving for an American in 36 years. The 23-year-old University of Texas student was a long shot to medal behind the usually dominant Chinese divers. With only three dives to go, she was well back in fifth place behind China's Li Na and Sang Xue. But Miss Wilkinson's perfect dives put pressure on her competitors, who faltered down the stretch. "The whole time I knew that it was virtually impossible for me to win considering how far back I was," Miss Wilkinson said. "Things had to take a weird turn.... I just had to keep my mind on my dives." When an NBC reporter asked her how she was able to pull off the victory, Miss Wilkinson responded from Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." She told WORLD: "That's always been a favorite verse of mine, but this time it really meant something. It became real. I really was trying to do something that I can't do. God was with me."
Woods: Tiger's tale