July 24, 2000
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Champion number one is 24- year-old Tiger Woods. He became the youngest golfer ever to complete the sport's grand slam when he won the British Open yesterday at the course in St. Andrews, Scotland, where golf was born.
SPORTSCASTER: He's won them all-- the grand slam!
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Woods had won the masters in 1997, the PGA last year, and the U.S. Open last month.
TIGER WOODS: I've always envisioned that I would have the slam eventually. I knew I would have it. To have it at such a young age, that makes it even that much more special. But to beat some of the greatest champions this game has to offer and to play this great game of golf, and to be able to win at this venue and to complete the slam at this venue, that's what makes it so special.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Champion number two is cyclist Lance Armstrong. The 28-year-old cancer survivor won the Tour de France yesterday for the second year in a row, this time by six minutes and two seconds. The 2,774-mile race takes riders through tough terrain, including several days in the Alps.
LANCE ARMSTRONG: It was more emotional this time than it was last year, believe it or not. I don't know. It was a sweeter victory. It's a confirmation of what we did last year and everything that I wanted last year to stand for still stands this year. And it's a confirmation of all of that, so it was a very good day.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And with me now to discuss yesterday's winners
is C.W. Nevius, sports columnist for the "San Francisco Chronicle."
C.W. NEVIUS, San Francisco Chronicle: That's right.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: How important was what happened yesterday?
C. W. NEVIUS: It was important. We moved from the golf course to the history books. Everyone wondered if he could get the fourth leg of the grand slam. Only four golfers had done it before. If he hadn't won it, this would be looming over him. To do it at the most hallowed site in golf, for heaven's stakes, at St. Andrews, that was epic. And to do it the way he did it - we've already seen this with the U.S. Open, where he won a huge margin, the largest margin in 138 years. He's done it at St. Andrews. Now he's done Pebble Beach, St. Andrews. You couldn't script it any better to solidify your place in the history of golf.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And he broke records with his score, didn't he?
C. W. NEVIUS: He did. He broke records left and right. I think more importantly, importantly in the sense we'll see that for the rest of his career, he did this at this time in golf. But I think he's demoralized the rest of the golfing field to the point where they are going to be very hard pressed to find a way to stop him. I know his next stop is the PGA Tournament, and the pro there suggested the only way there to stop him was to take the flagsticks out of their holes. So it's going to be difficult. And I think the one thing we do not have with Tiger Woods is we don't have someone to challenge him to make that sense of... in the old days we had Arnie, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. You already an Arnie guy or a Jack guy. Which of those two people did you like? It's Tiger and nobody else.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Okay. I want to come back to that. But, first, why it is such a big deal at St. Andrews?
C. W. NEVIUS: Well, St. Andrews is virtually the birthplace of golf. And not only it is the hallowed ground of golf and the beginning of golf and the history of golf, but it also is the sense of golf. And an awful lot of the Americans have refused to play there. There's the famous story of Sam Sneed going by on a train, looking out the window, and saying, what abandoned golf course is that? It's not a golf course like Augusta where it's clipped green and we never see a dandelion or a weed. This is a very difficult, demanding course. A lot of people have gone over there, played it once -- Ben Hogan, for example, went over and played the British Open once and left and said I'm not playing this ever again. Tiger Woods went there and embraced the idea of playing. He even played on Wednesday - he played the old-fashioned ball that they used to use just for a sense of tradition and history. The Scottish people have embraced it. And what I'm trying to say is it makes it a global game. The people of Scotland, the people of the United States, they all have a sense of this. And he's embraced that sense, that this is different and it's the same game.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: The bunkers on that golf course, they look like tank traps or something. They were huge. And he didn't go in one.
C. W. NEVIUS: 112, all named, and he didn't hit one. I think this is the secret of Tiger --- is he's longer, he's stronger, he's straighter, but he's smarter. He knew where to hit the ball and did. He had some very close calls -- a few of them jumped over and so forth. It's very hard to got to a golf course, see the flag, and hit somewhere else. And he did that intentionally. He stayed away from the bunkers. He hit to the right side of the fairway in every situation, in every case. He said he was in a bunker every day, but that was on the practice tee.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: One of the other golfers there, Nick Faldo, said that Tiger Woods has thrown out all the myths of golf. And one of the myths he mentioned is that you don't have to train for golf; that you don't... It doesn't help to train. In fact, you might get too strong and it will ruin your stroke. Explain that.
C. W. NEVIUS: Well, in 1964, when Jack Nicklaus was winning the grand slam, his nickname was Fat Jack. He was not an imposing physical specimen - let's be honest here. He had a bucket hat, he had a little paunch over his belt. The idea was that's golfers for you; that's the way they are. They have hand-eye coordination, they're good putters; they're thoughtful people, but they're not athletes. Tiger Woods is the most athletic golfer to ever play at this level. And it's rewritten the game. David Duval spent all of last season lifting weights. He lost 20 pounds. He looked almost scarily skinny at times, but he tried to copy the Tiger Woods regiment. That's what we're going to see now is that you have to be stronger. Nick Faldo said that. If you're going to play, the 15 and 16-year-olds that are watching this right now, if you're going to play like Tiger, you'd better get in the gym like Tiger. And that's a whole new world for golf.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Now this question of contenders that you raised. Jack Nicklaus said there are no real contenders, and that makes for a bad story.
C. W. NEVIUS: Yeah.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Do you think that's true? Or are we going to have to wait until these 15-year-olds are older to see a contender?
C. W. NEVIUS: It may be. When the U.S. Open was taking place at Pebble Beach, there was a great discussion. By Sunday it was a foregone conclusion. The question was: would people watch just to see him march to victory, or would they like to see something close, last-minute finish, a chip-in like Tom Watson did at the Open -and the answer was, they loved seeing this march to victory. In fact, the British Open ratings were 7.5, which is excellent. But for the last half hour of the British Open broadcast, after it was decided, after all was to see him finish up on the 18th green, the ratings went up to 10.7. So people love to see Tiger Woods. They can't get enough of him. He's charismatic. I think we need a contender. But I don't know who it's going to be. Poor Ernie Els has finished second in the PGA; he's finished second in the British Open, the master's and the U.S. Open. He's going to have the bride's maid grand slam. And it's very discouraging to do that.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: All right. On to Lance Armstrong. He also won so decisively. What makes him so dominant?
C. W. NEVIUS: What a great weekend. I don't think the Americans have had such a good weekend in Europe since V.J. Day. It's been just terrific. Lance Armstrong was a terrific, story last year because of his cancer survivor story. Three years ago he had testicular cancer spread to his lungs and to his brain. He was given a 40% chance of dying. He managed to recover from that. Three years after that, he won the Tour de France. But it was tainted. The Tour de France last year did not have the best competitors. There was a doping scandal. EPO is a drug you can take that improves your oxygen capacity. There was a scandal; so everyone said it was a bit of a fluke. And, as you might imagine, the Europeans are a little provincial. It's not a big thrill for them to have the Americans show up. Lance Armstrong remembered every slight. And this year when he came out, all the best riders were there. And he took all of them on, and defeated all them. In fact, in the Alps, in the most difficult time of race, he made up over ten minutes on the leader, caught him on this incredibly steep slope and then took the lead and no one was able to catch him. So it was a great emotional victory this time. Last time it was a great physical victory.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: He actually said he thinks this year was a greater victory than last and for him every year that he's alive is a big victory and should be a big story.
C. W. NEVIUS: Right and he also said, and I think it's just terrific, that he said he's not going to be one of those guys that's going to stick around and wait. He's going to get off his bike at some point and say I'm going to move on to the next thing. And he credits the fact he had this brush with death that he's got his priorities straight. The real irony is that one of the problems he had as a younger cyclist was that he was too heavy. He went through chemotherapy. He lost 40 pounds. He's a much thinner man. He built himself back up obviously, but he realized as soon as he got back on the bike that this thinner frame was working much better for him. So in an odd way, and he's very quick to pick up on this, in an odd way, what doesn't kill us makes us stronger.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: So what happens next for him?
C. W. NEVIUS: Well, he's got an interesting approach. We have got Tiger Woods going to the PGA, and Lance Armstrong has the Olympics lined up. So it could not have fallen into place better for Lance Armstrong. There's an event in the Olympics called the time trails; it's on the bank track. You actually race against the clock. It's not one of those situations when you're in a pack, but you're able to race against the clock on bank track in perfect conditions. It's an ideal situation for someone like Lance Armstrong who is powerful, strong, aerobically fit and so forth. So he's going to go to the Olympics and has to be considered one of the favorites for a gold medal, which would be another huge story for Lance Armstrong.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Well, Chuck Nevius, thanks for being with us.
C. W. NEVIUS: The pleasure was mine.