THE BEST (AND WORST) OF 1999
3 Burning Bright Eight tournament wins, twice that number of top-10 finishes, an average of nearly 4.5 birdies per round. Oh, and Tiger Woods added $6.6 million to his bank balance. The 23-year-old may face tougher competition next year, especially from Spain's Sergio García, 19, one-shot runner-up to Woods in the PGA.
4 Wizards of Oz Australia won cricket's World Cup in June. Then rugby union's in November, when the Wallabies overwhelmed the French, who had obligingly eliminated favorite New Zealand in a thrilling semi-final. A Davis Cup final win over France this month proved the Australians are at the top of their tennis game, too.
5 Long Legs Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj again proved he can win over whatever middle distance he chooses to run. He is unbeaten over 1,500 m and set world records at 2,000 m and the mile. In Chicago in October, his U.S.-based countryman Khalid Khannouchi became the first person to break the 2 hr. 6 min. barrier (2:05.42) for the marathon. And Kenya's Tegla Loroupe lowered the women's wall to 2:20.43 in Berlin in September.
6 Comeback Kid From 141st in world tennis rankings just two years ago, Andre Agassi became only the fifth man to take all four Grand Slam titles. He regained the No. 1 slot with his U.S. Open victory in September. Plus he got to romance Steffi Graf, who retired after a 17-year career of 22 Grand Slam titles and some $35 million in prize money.
7 The Thorpedo Trying out Sydney's Olympic pool, 16-year-old Ian Thorpe set world records for the 400-m and 200-m freestyle, and in the 4x200-m freestyle relay. The pool also suited South Africa's Penny Heyns, who set a new 200-m breaststroke mark in it, one of 13 world bests she notched in two months.
8 Big Wheels Finland scored a double with Tommi Makinen, world rally champion for the fourth year running, and Mika Hakkinen, champion Formula One driver for a second time. On two wheels, Spain's Alex Crivillé powered to the 500-cc world championship, and 20-year-old Italian Valentino Rossi became the youngest-ever 250-cc champion.
9 Tour de Courage Lance Armstrong came back from chemotherapy for testicular cancer not just to stay alive but to win France's and the world's toughest cycle race. An even bigger prize was the son the American and his wife Kristin produced with his sperm saved pre-surgery.
10 Ping Pong Gongs China's peerless paddlers took all five gold and five silver medals at the 45th world table tennis titles in the Netherlands--their third gold sweep and their 101st world title since they began competing in 1959.
AND THE WORST
Feet of Clay: The phrase "Olympic ideal" is a favorite of Juan Antonio Samaranch, head of the International Olympic Committee. But it was an oxymoron as three IOC members quit and six were expelled amid reports of bribes offered by Salt Lake City to win the 2002 Games. By year's end, the IOC voted to ban members from visiting cities bidding to host the Games.
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