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Tuesday, December 28, 1999

Woods named top athlete of `99

AP Golf Writer
NEW YORK, Dec. 29, 1999 -- The next time Tiger Woods says that he only plays to win, pay close attention.

After working for nearly 18 months to get comfortable with his new swing, Woods unleashed one of the most dominant golf seasons in the second half of the 20th century and left his peers wondering how much better he can get.

He won nine of his last 13 tournaments and earned $7.6 million worldwide. Perhaps the best statement of his supremacy is this: Woods won more PGA Tour events in the final five months of the season (6) than any other player won in an entire season this decade.

On Monday, Woods was named The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year in a close vote over Lance Armstrong.

"It's great to be selected, very humbling to be part of that," said Woods, who won the award for the second time in three years. "A lot of great athletes have won this award."

Woods received 29 first-place votes and 144 points from AP member newspapers and broadcast outlets. Armstrong, who overcame testicular cancer to win the Tour de France, had 31 first-place votes and finished with 130 points.

Cy Young award winner Pedro Martinez of the Boston Red Sox finished third with 45 points, followed by John Elway and Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne.

Rounding out the top 10 were: Andre Agassi, Tim Duncan, Payne Stewart, Sammy Sosa and quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Kurt Warner, who tied for 10th.

The U.S. women's World Cup soccer team was named the AP Female Athletes of the Year last week and also won for story of the year.

Woods became only the seventh man - and second golfer - to win AP Athlete of the Year twice since it began in 1931. The others were Don Budge, Byron Nelson, Sandy Koufax, Carl Lewis, Joe Montana and Michael Jordan.

Jordan is the only three-time winner. Woods, who turns 24 on Thursday, figures to have at least 20 more years to match or surpass Jordan. At this rate, the only thing capable of stopping him is a career-threatening injury or loss of desire.

"He's not even close to how good he can get," Davis Love III said after finishing second to Woods in the Tour Championship. "He's going to be good for a long, long time."

Woods won this award for what he did in a short period of time.

Heading into the PGA Championship, the final major of the year, David Duval was still No. 1 in the world rankings. But Woods won at Medinah for his second major, then really separated himself from the rest of the sport.

He won five of his final six PGA Tour events, including the final four, the best streak since Ben Hogan won four straight tour events in 1953. His eight PGA Tour victories were the most since Johnny Miller in 1974.

"I exceeded my own expectations," Woods said. "I thought I could possibly win seven times. It goes to show that hard work sometimes pays off."

That work started after his phenomenal season in 1997, when Woods became the youngest Masters champion in record fashion, won four other tournaments and was the AP Male Athlete of the Year.

Why change after that? Woods insisted there were too many flaws in his swing. He was either winning big or out of contention, and he sought a swing that would keep his name on the leader board every day, every week.

It all came together after his post-Masters layoff, and the results were staggering. Including the World Cup of Golf, a two-man team event where Woods' score alone was good enough for a U.S. victory, he won nine of his final 13 events of the year. He finished lower than seventh just once.

"What I have a hard time believing is what a high level he has played at," Phil Mickelson said. "Normally, of all the guys in the field, a couple will get hot and go low. And it's been Tiger every single week."

Such dominance is rare in golf.

Rec department hoop sign-ups continue

PECOS, Dec. 28, 1999 -- Registration will continue for the next two weeks for the Reeves County Community Sports and Recreation Department's men's basketball league, while youth league sign-ups will run from now through the end of January.

Registration forms for the men's league can be picked up at the RCCRD office at the old Pecos High School gym between now and Jan. 7. The office is open weekdays between 5 and 9 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.

Registration times for the PeeWee Basketball Leagues are also from 5 and 9 p.m. weekdays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays at the RCCRD office. The games will begin after the high school basketball seasons end in February.

The PeeWee leagues are open to boys and girls ages 5 through 10 with a deadline to sign up of Jan. 28. Recreation Department director Nora Geron said anyone who signs up before Jan. 7 will receive five weeks of ball handling and basic fundamentals before they start playing in regular games.

For further information on either league, call the recreation department at 447-9776.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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