On This Day

  • May 9 down the years

Gary Player wins final major

Gary Player trailed by five strokes before winning at Augusta © Getty Images
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1978
Golfing great Gary Player won a Major for the last time. With nine holes to play at Augusta, the South African trailed Hubert Green by five strokes. By the end, he was one ahead after making seven birdies on the last ten holes. His round of 64 equalled the tournament record at the time. Player was 41. This was the third time he won the Masters and the ninth time he won a Major. He'd been winning them for 19 years, his first coming on July 3 1959.

2010
Chelsea sealed their first Premier League title since 2006 by thrashing Wigan Athletic 8-0 at Stamford Bridge. A hat-trick from Golden Boot winner Didier Drogba, who finished the season with 29 league goals, two from Nicolas Anelka, a Frank Lampard penalty and others from Salomon Kalou and Ashley Cole saw Carlo Ancelotti guide the Blues to the title in his debut season in the Premier League.

1870
Harry Vardon was born in Jersey. The most successful golfer of his generation, he had company up there on Olympus: the other two members of the Great Triumvirate. They were contemporaries. Jimmy Braid was born in the same year as Vardon (February 6), JH Taylor a year later (March 19). Both of them won the British Open five times. Vardon won it six times, a record that survived Tom Watson's charge on July 19 2009. A master stylist, Vardon made the most of the primitive equipment at his disposal. When rounds of 80-plus were the norm, he shot a record 72 at the British Open on June 10 1903, finishing six shots ahead of his brother Tom. In the days before regular transatlantic travel, Vardon popped over to win the US Open on October 5 1900, with Taylor again second, and was back thirteen years later for the seminal play-off that really launched the game in the States (September 20). Just to show the result was not a blip, Vardon won his sixth British Open the following year (June 19), beating the new US champion by an incredible 26 strokes. He was still good enough to finish equal second in the US Open in 1920, behind another Jersey boy, big-hitting Ted Ray (March 28 1877), who was 43. Vardon was 50. An all-time giant who proved it for 30 years.

2004
Michael Schumacher equalled the best start to a Formula 1 campaign by winning the first five races. The fifth was in Spain today. He was hit from behind during the sixth, the Monaco Grand Prix on May 23, the only one of the first 13 races he failed to win. He won 13 in all, the record by any driver in any season, and won the Championship for the fifth time in a row and seventh in all.

1982
Joyce Smith won the London Marathon, running 2 hours 29 minutes 43 seconds to break her own British record by 14 secs. She finished behind only 186 male runners and beat the second-placed woman by over six and a half minutes. It was Smith's sixth and last British record in the event. She was 44.

1941
Another icon of British women's track and field was born today. Barnsley's Dorothy Hyman was only 17 when she won gold in the sprint relay at the Commonwealth Games 1958, and she did the sprint double at the Games four years later. She was at her peak then, winning the 100 metres at the European Championships and taking silver in the 200. Two years earlier, at the 1960 Olympics, she did well to win silver in the 100 and bronze in the 200, way behind America's Wilma Rudolph, whose long legs made all the difference. In an earlier era, Hyman would have been a world star. She was BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1963, but the power sprinters had arrived by the time of the 1964 Olympics, when she managed just a bronze in the relay. She set eight British records at 100m and two at 200, plus two world records in the 4x110 yards relay.

1928
Pancho Gonzales was born Ricardo Gonzáles in Los Angeles. The outstanding personality of postwar tennis, he was the ghost at the feast of the amateur game for ten years. A number of players would have won Grand Slam events if he had not turned professional soon after retaining the US title in 1949. He helped the USA win the Davis Cup that year and was favourite for Wimbledon but lost in the fourth round, though he did win the doubles. After that: money-making in the wilderness. By the time open tennis arrived, he was 40 and the best he could do was stay in the news. He made history as the first professional to lose to an amateur in an open event (April 24 1968) but also by winning Wimbledon's longest match (June 25 1969). He was no stranger to epic struggles. Back in 1949 again, he won a five-set US final against 'Ted' Schroeder after losing the first 18-16 in 75 minutes. Gonzales was the oldest player to win an open tournament - the 1972 Des Moines Open when he was almost 44. His feline movements around the court disguised the fact he was a serve and volleyer and not much else - hard to imagine him winning the French against Hoad, Laver, and especially Rosewall. Gonzales married and divorced six times (his last wife was Andre Agassi's sister). The hardest thing about his career was finding an opponent with a good word to say about him. One of them said the nicest thing he ever said to his wives was 'Shut up.'

1991
When Michael Moorer moved up to chase the big boys, his WBO light-heavyweight title was contested by Leeonzer Barber and Britain's Tom Collins. Two years earlier, Collins had been severely criticised for quitting on his stool after only two rounds of his attempt for the WBC title. Tonight he quit after six, but it was understandable. He was 35, almost ten years older than Barber, and the American was too strong and too fast. Collins was down in the second round and barely survived barrages in the third and fourth. Barber won the title in his thirteenth pro fight. You needed a magnifying glass to spot Collins' credentials. He won only 26 of his 50 fights and retired in 1993 after losing a go at the WBF cruiserweight title.

1998
Rugby union's Anglo-Welsh Cup was known as the Tetley's Bitter Cup at the time. Saracens won it for the first time - and in style, beating Wasps 48-18 in the Final. Their seven tries were shared by seven different players, and two all-time greats made major contributions in their last big match in England. French centre Philippe Sella scored an early try and Australia's Michael Lynagh landed five conversions and a drop goal.

1984
The longest game in Major League baseball. The Chicago White Sox beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-6 after 25 innings spread over eight hours and six minutes.

1939
Ralph Boston was born in Mississippi. In 1960, he broke Jesse Owens's world long jump record which had lasted since May 25 1935, and he set five more, culminating in the 8.35 metres that was shattered by Bob Beamon on October 18 1968. Boston won bronze at those Olympics, having worked his way down from gold. In 1960, he survived a last-round chiller from Irvin 'Bo' Roberson to win by a single centimetre. In 1964, the weather conditions reduced him to silver behind Britain's Lynn Davies. A tough but cheerful competitor, gracious in defeat, Boston was Pan-American Games champion in 1963 and 1967.

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