- August 15 down the years
Tiger roars into the new decade
It was fitting that the last Major of the millennium was won by Tiger Woods, the player who was about to dominate the next decade. In the US PGA at Medinah, Woods carded middle rounds of 67 and 68 which allowed him to hold off 19-year-old Sergio García, who surprised everyone after his disaster at the British Open, where he shot 89 and 83 before making way for poor Jean Van de Velde (July 18). At the PGA, García took the first-round lead with a 66 but slumped to 73 in the second before hitting the shot of the tournament in the last round. At the 16th hole, 170 yards from the pin, with his ball trapped among tree roots, he blasted out to within 40 feet, jumping after his ball as it travelled. But Woods beat him by a single shot and García didn't win a Major in the decade that followed. One curiosity: Mike Weir shot 68-68-69 before plummeting out of contention with an 80, the first player to shoot sixties and eighties in a Major but not a seventy.
In 2004, Vijay Singh won the US PGA for the first time since 1998 (August 16). He was 41 by then but kept it all together to tie with Justin Leonard and Chris DeMarco, then beat them in a play-off, holing a 10-foot birdie putt at the first of the three extra holes. It was his first birdie of the final day, but Leonard bogeyed three of the last five holes in the round.
British cyclists won Olympic gold in the team sprint. Chris Hoy, Jamie Staff, and Jason Kenny set an unofficial world record of 42.950 seconds in their opening ride, then clocked progressively slower times in their next round and the final, where they were still fast enough to finish more than half a second ahead of France, who'd been dominant for three years. Hoy had won silver in the event in 2000, but he and Staff finished only fifth in 2004. This was the first of big Chris' three golds at these Games, including one the day after.
On the athletics track today, Tirunesh Dibaba won the 10,000 metres. Her time of 29 minutes 54.68 made her the first woman to run the race in under half an hour at the Games, shattering the Olympic record set by her Ethiopian compatriot Derartu Tulu in 2000. Dibaba became the first woman to do the distance double by winning the 5000 a week later. Another Ethiopian, Elvan Abeylegesse who was running for Turkey, won silver behind her both times.
New Zealand's first Test match. They were already a strong rugby country. Australia weren't. So even though the match was at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the Aussies didn't manage a try while the All Blacks (they wore that colour from the start) scored three in a 22-3 win. The big difference, unusually for those days, was in place kicking. Stan Wickham levelled the scores for Australia with an early penalty goal, but the great Billy Wallace scored New Zealand's first ever points with a penalty of his own, then added a conversion and two four-point goals from a mark. The first gave the All Blacks a 7-3 lead at half-time. Wallace then stopped a great run by Wickham with a tackle on the line. New Zealand's first Test try was scored by super-fast wing 'Opai' Asher, whose first names were Albert Arapeha. George 'Bubs' Tyler scored the second try and Robert 'Dick' McGregor the third after the ball seemed to go into touch. The All Blacks played their first home Test against the British Isles the following year (August 13).
Michael Schumacher won the Hungarian Grand Prix for the fourth time, ten years after the first. He led all the way from pole, while Rubens Barrichello started second on the grid and followed him home at a respectful distance for yet another Ferrari one-two. Schumacher went on to win the world title for the seventh and last time.
Seb Coe set his only world record at 1500 metres. His 3 minutes 31.1 in Zurich clipped a tenth of a second off the time set by Filbert Bayi's dazzling run at the 1974 Commonwealth Games ( February 2). Steve Ovett broke Coe's record the following year before they continued swapping the world mile record in 1981 (August).
In a complete mismatch in Cape Town, Percy Montgomery scored 35 points against Namibia, the country he was born in! He converted 12 of South Africa's 15 tries, scored one himself, and even kicked two penalty goals. Bradley Langenhoven scored a try on his debut for the Namibians, who lost 105-13.