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December 06, 2001

Tiger redefining golf
By Dan Patrick

Previously, I've listed five of my Top 10 most compelling and colorful sports personalities of 2000. The five below complete this elite list.

Tiger Woods
If Tiger Woods wins the 2001 Masters, he'll be the reigning champion of the four majors.
Tiger Woods
In 2000, Woods won -- among his 10 victories -- the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA. So if he wins the '01 Masters, he'll be the reigning champion of the four majors. Many wouldn't agree, but I would give him the Grand Slam. As Dennis Miller said, Tiger Woods is the one guy in the world that Michael Jordan is jealous of. But I think he'll end up even bigger than Jordan. Woods is changing people's perception of his sport. He is changing the way the game is played and who plays it.

Phil Jackson
Seven rings as a coach. But he'll never get all the credit he deserves. Critics say that in Chicago he had Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, two of the greatest players of all time. In Los Angeles, he has Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, two of the best players in the game today. And while Jackson handles the stars brilliantly, he does his best work with the role players he brings in. Lots of teams have two superstars. Phil Jackson's genius is in getting the other guys to come through.

Dennis Miller
If you're a sanctimonious, overly serious "football guy," you don't like Dennis Miller in the Monday Night Football booth. But if you have a sense of humor and simply enjoy the game, you welcome him. The guys at ABC know the real deal: If the game is good, people watch. If it's a stinker, people don't watch. Miller wasn't going to change that. By Week 8, the criticism had died down. Dennis Miller was not ruining MNF. What a relief! I think, though, that the early rips he took may make Miller think twice about coming back.

Ray Lewis
He was found not guilty. We may never know what really happened in Atlanta in the hours following Super Bowl XXXIV. If any good is to come from Lewis' ordeal, it may be that other athletes realize that those people hanging around may not all be friends with your best interests in mind. The shame is that Ray Lewis is one hell of a football player. But most people don't know his name for that reason.

Rulon Gardner
In the failed drug-test games of Sydney, where modern pharmaceutical technology was on display, Rulon Gardner was an old-fashioned hero. This American Greco-Roman wrestler defeated Russian Alexander Karelin in the biggest upset of the games. He acted with class, unlike a lot of American Olympians, and was easy to root for. Gardner was such a throwback that his defeat of Karelin even summoned up those old Cold War feelings.

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