On This Day

  • February 27 down the years

Clarke topples the Tiger

Darren Clarke earned the handshake © Getty Images
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2000
Darren Clarke beat Tiger Woods to win the World Matchplay. Well, the newer version of it, anyway. Clarke was seeded 19th, Woods of course No.1. And Woods had lost only one of his previous seven 36-hole matches. He'd won five events in the last five months, the same number as Clarke in ten years as a professional. But in the final, they were level after the first round. In the afternoon, Woods had a bad run at the 10th, 11th and 12th, and Clarke went on to win the title 4 & 3. Woods won it three times in the next eight years.

1988
Katarina Witt retained her Olympic title. Her free programme was strong on interpretation but short of risks, so her technical marks were low, leaving the door open for Debi Thomas. In the last five years, Thomas had been the only skater to beat Witt, at the 1986 World Championships - but today she simply blew it. A bad landing right at the start of her routine knocked the fight out of her.

1997
José María Olazábal played his first European Tour event in 18 months. His rheumatoid arthritis made it impossible to walk for a while, and he still had a limp today - but he shot a superb 65 in the third round and tied for 12th at 279, nine-under-par. A popular comeback was completed two years later when he won the Masters for the second time.

1968
The first Australian Aboriginal to win a world boxing title. When Mexico's Jesús Pimentel dropped out, world bantamweight champion Masahiko 'Fighting' Harada needed an opponent at short notice. So his team decided on Lionel Rose, a 20-year-old Australian, freely admitting that they picked him because they thought he'd be an easy mark. Everything was against Rose. Not only was he fighting in Tokyo, all three judges were Japanese! So his performance was all the more impressive. Against Harada's all-action style, he stayed cool and boxed clever. His left hand was in the champion's face so much it cut Harada's eye in the eighth and ninth, then knocked him down. Rose was so superior that even the Japanese judges couldn't take it away from him - though they tried to. One gave the fight to him by only two points and another called it a draw! Rose made three successful defences before being stopped by Rubén Olivares the following year. Harada lost two attempts at taking the title from Johnny Famechon, retiring after the second in 1970.

1902
Gene Sarazen was born Eugenio Saraceni in New York State and grew into that rarity: an Italian interested in golf. Keen enough to be one of the best. In 1922 he became the youngest ever winner of the USPGA. He won the US Open that year too, then retained the PGA title in 1923. He had to wait almost ten years to win another Major, but he won them in another cluster: the British and US Opens in 1932, the PGA again the following year, and the Masters in 1935, which made him the first golfer to win all four. In 1973, when he was 71, he hit a hole-in-one at the British Open, on the Postage Stamp eighth hole at Troon.

Jason Gardener was nicknamed the "Bath Bullet" © Getty Images
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2000
Two British runners won gold at the European Indoors which ended today. Jason Gardener equalled the Championship record in winning the first of his four consecutive titles at 60 metres. And Christian Malcolm won the 200 the day before. Mark Carroll of Ireland won the 3000 metres; Tomás Dvořák of the Czech Republic set a world record in winning the heptathlon; and it wouldn't be athletics without a note from the chemist: Aleksandr Bagach tested positive for drugs after throwing the shot furthest.

1994
Fans warmed to Alberto Tomba's daring second runs. But they might have been happier if he'd won one or two more races. In the slalom at the 1988 Winter Olympics, he came through to nick the gold medal by six hundredths of a second. But in 1992 he fell 0.28 short and finished with silver. Same again today. A breakneck second run brought him within 0.15 of gold - but it would have helped if he hadn't started 1.84 seconds behind. When he retained the super giant slalom title on February 18, 1992, he led after the first run.

1890
Not the longest boxing match with gloves, but long enough for the spectators, who were bored stiff for most of it. In his fight with Patsy Kerrigan in San Francisco, Danny Needham dislocated his left wrist in the fifth round, so he spent the rest of the fight keeping out of trouble. Unfortunately so did Kerrigan - for the remaining 95 rounds! Some of the onlookers were seen to snooze through parts of it. They woke up when Needham went down three times in the 55th (or the 56th; reporters lost count!), then resumed their naps until he was floored four times in the 70th. After 100, the encounter was called a draw and the prize money withheld. So they spent six hours 40 minutes in the ring for nothing.

1960
Andrés Gómez was born in Ecuador. A left-handed clay court specialist, he finally reached the top in 1990 when he became French Open champion. He won the final in four sets by outwitting the favourite, a 20-year-old Andre Agassi, who was playing in his first Grand Slam final.

1994
Hou Yifan was born in China. Yet another chess prodigy, she was only 14 when she finished runner-up at the women's World Championship in 2008, far and away the youngest ever finalist. She lost 1-0 with three draws to Aleksandra Kosteniuk of Russia, who was only 20 herself.

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