• December 30 down the years

A Tiger is born

The sporting events of December 30 down the years
Tiger Woods: A golfing great © Getty Images

They gave him the first names Eldrick Tont and the nickname Tiger, and it's okay to say Mr Woods been mauling golfers and golf courses ever since. In 1994, when he was only 18, he won the USA Amateur title. Within three years, he added the Masters to his tally. Only Jack Nicklaus (born January 21, 1940) has won more Majors, no-one else has held all four at the same time. In 2000, Woods won the 100th US Open, which was also Nicklaus' last. His total of 272 equalled the US Open record, and his winning margin of 15 strokes is the record for any Major. He is chasing Nicklaus' record of 18 Major titles, Woods has 14 to his name, but he took an indefinite break from golf at the end of 2009 following revelations about his private life.

Sonny Liston died as he'd lived, in mysterious circumstances. No-one's sure when he was born, and there are rumours of mob involvement in his boxing career and in his death, which was officially from a drug overdose. Regularly beaten by his father, he did the same to opponents in the ring. He wasn't given a shot at the world heavyweight title until he was 30, when he emphatically made up for lost time, stopping Floyd Patterson in the first round, then knocking him down three times the following year. Poor Floyd lasted a total of four minutes in those two fights. Liston quit on his stool against Cassius Clay (now Muhammad Ali) in 1964. In the rematch, he was knocked out in the first round by a punch with no power behind it, which added to the shady legend. Someone should have taken more care of big Sonny. He didn't deserve a lot of what happened to him.

Phillips Idowu was born - and had to wait 30 years before reaching the top in triple jumping. Silver medallist behind Jonathan Edwards at the Commonwealth Games in 2002, he won gold four years later and followed that by winning the European Indoors in 2007 and the World Indoors the following year, which established him as one of the favourites for the Olympics. Distraught at losing the gold by only five centimetres to Portugal's Nelson Evora, he turned the tables in 2009, jumping a new outdoor personal best of 17.73 to succeed √Čvora as world champion. Idowu set another PB of 17.81 in winning the European Championships the following year.

Ben Johnson was born. A decent sprinter without pharmaceutical help, he won bronze in the 100 metres at the 1984 Olympics - but fancied finishing in front of Carl Lewis, not behind him. So by 1986 he was running away from Linford Christie to win the Commonwealth Games title, then at the 1987 World Championships came the first horrible breakthrough. Exploding out of the blocks, he left Lewis in his wake and broke the world record by a yard. The nickname Benoid reflected people's suspicions. Calvin Smith, whose record Johnson had just broken, said 'There's a lot unknown.' But not for long. When Johnson lost to Lewis the following season, he began to worry that he might lose the Olympic final too - so he took a dose of his favourite steroid too close to the Games. The gold medal went to Lewis, Benoid's world record 9.79 was wiped from the books, and he was banned for two years. When he failed another test after that, he was banned for life.

A bad cut cost Scottish flyweight Walter McGowan his world title. Fighting against a Thai boxer in Bangkok, he led Chartchai Chionoi on points when the fight was stopped in the ninth round. McGowan needed several stitches in his nose and retired two years later without getting a rematch.

In rugby union, Middlesex clinched the County Championship by winning 19-6 against Northumberland, who were appearing in the final for the first time since 1936 and hadn't won it since 1898. But the Fates were just waiting to hand over a birthday present. Northumberland won the title in 1980-81, their centenary year.

Rocky Marciano's punching power almost had fatal consequences. Fellow Italian-American Carmine Vingo took two counts of nine, in the first and second rounds, before being knocked out in the sixth. He was taken to hospital with a brain haemorrhage. While Marciano went on to the world heavyweight title and untold riches, all of Vingo's earnings from the fight went on medical bills and he never fought again. He'd had his 20th birthday two days earlier.

Bill Larned was born. With his antique grip, holding a tennis racquet virtually halfway up the handle, he won the US singles championship title times from 1901 to 1911, equalling a record that hasn't been broken, and helped the USA retain the Davis Cup in 1902. Depressed by the arthritis that ended his tennis career, he committed suicide in December 1926.

When they saw the icy pitch for the NFL Championship Game, the New York Giants put on sneakers instead of normal football shoes - and thumped the Chicago Bears 47-7, scoring six touchdowns to one. On the same day in 1962, the Giants lost the Championship Game 16-7 to the Green Bay Packers.

'Buller' Staddan committed suicide. On his international rugby debut, against Ireland in 1884, he became the first player to drop a goal for Wales. His eighth and last Test match was staged in Dewsbury, where he played his club rugby. Two minutes into the second half, he took a throw-in, bounced the ball on the pitch, regathered it himself, and crossed for a try. It was the only score of the match and Wales's first win over England.

In the Davis Cup final, Australia faced two future Wimbledon singles champions in America's Vic Seixas and Tony Trabert - but they had the current one themselves in Frank Sedgman, who beat Seixas in the opening singles. Then a bonus. Ken McGregor surprised Trabert in straight sets, after which the doubles were a relative formality: Sedgman and McGregor were the reigning Wimbledon champions.

Paola Pigni was born in Italy. She didn't have the sprint finish to win a major 1500 metre title, finishing third in the 1969 Europeans and 1972 Olympics. Her strength was better suited to setting world records (at 1500, one mile, and 3,000 metres) and cross-country, at which she was world champion in 1973 and 1974.