The Rundown

Magnificent seven: Sport’s shock champions

The Rundown

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Golf fans
staying up to watch the climax of the US PGA Championship on Sunday night were
treated to a finale that was far and away the most thrilling climax of any of
this year's Major championships.

But while
the tournament scored top marks for play-off drama, it fell woefully short of star-laden
glamour as the world's best players fell by the wayside as unknown rookie Keegan
Bradley and equally unknown Jason Dufner fought it out for the Wanamaker
Trophy.

Bradley ended
up winning the tournament, becoming only the second golfer in the last 100
years to win one of the game's four Major titles at his first attempt.

And his
triumph has inspired us to take a look back at the top moments when
unfancied underdogs came through to win one of sport's greatest events.

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Denmark win Euro 1992

The
European Championships used to be a brutally tough tournament to qualify for,
with just eight nations making it through - and Denmark were left frustrated
when they were left behind after being held by Northern Ireland and losing their
crunch qualifier against Yugoslavia.

But the
Danes were given an unlikely reprieve when the Balkan conflict saw Yugoslavia thrown
out of the tournament.

It looked
unlikely that they would do much with their good fortune: a goalless draw with
England and a defeat by Sweden put them on the brink of going out, but a 2-1
win over France put them into the semi-finals.

After twice
taking the lead against the Netherlands, the Danes were undone by Frank
Rijkaard's late equaliser - yet they made it through to the final on penalties
courtesy of a blunder by Marco Van Basten.

And once
there they made the most of it, with John Jensen and Kim Vilfort scoring the
only goals of the match as the Danes beat Germany 2-0.

Goran Ivanisevic wins Wimbledon, 2001

Ivanisevic
(pictured, top right) lived and breathed Wimbledon, but it looked like the left-handed Croat with an
enormous service would go his entire career at SW19 without victory. Three times he
reached the final - and three times he was beaten - once at the hands of Andre
Agassi, twice by Pete Sampras.

But when he
was handed a wildcard to take part nine years after his first final and two
months short of his 30th birthday, Ivansevic's career was thought to be over. He was expected to do little more
than turn up and cheer the crowd with a few big serves and his winning smile in
a couple of early matches before an inevitable exit.

But the
world number 125 took the tournament by storm, beating Tim Henman in the
semi-final before stunning Pat Rafter of Australia 9-7 in the fifth set to win
a memorable Monday final.

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FOOTBALL Wimbledon celebrate Lawrie Sanchez's winning goal against Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup final - 0
Wimbledon win the FA Cup, 1988

The 'Crazy Gang'
had made waves in the world of football with a string of promotions that saw
them go from non-League status to the old first division in just nine seasons
in the late 1970s and early '80s.

They weren't
finished, however: in their second season in the top flight the long ball
specialists made it through to the final of the FA Cup, where they beat the
reigning First Division champions Liverpool 1-0. Lawrie Sanchez put the
underdogs ahead just before half-time, and permed goalkeeper Dave Beasant became
a legend as he saved a second-half penalty by John Aldridge that would have
forced extra time.

Foinavon wins the Grand National, 1967

The Irish
thoroughbred turned up to take part in the most prestigious race on the
National Hunt calendar purely as an experience, with his chances deemed so
remote that owner Cyril Watkins didn't even both turning up at Aintree to watch.

Bookies had
the unheralded horse at odds as long as 500-1 before the race, though he had
been shortened on the morning of the National itself to around 125-1.

And that
lack of faith seemed entirely justified when, with one and a half circuits of
the race having been run, Foinavon was placed 28 out of 44 starters. All that
changed, however, when a horse named Popham Down - who had unseated his rider
at the first - veered across the field at the 23rd fence, causing a huge pile-up
of horses and jockeys.

Foinavon
was so far back that jockey John Buckingham had enough time to avoid the
carnage - and before the next fence the rider looked back and realised
that he had a 100-length lead.

Some of the
front runners remounted and gave chase, closing the gap to 20 lengths by the
end, but the lucky outsider had enough in him to become the least likely winner
of the race.

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Leon Spinks beats Muhammad Ali, 1978

The ageing
Ali decided to fight almost unknown Spinks in February 1978, looking for an
easy payday against a young boxer taking part in only his eighth professional
fight.

But what
should have been a straightforward payday for Ali turned into a nightmare as
Spinks beat him in a 15-round decision to become, shockingly, the undisputed
world heavyweight champion.

Sri Lanka win the Cricket World Cup, 1996

Though the
island nation is now recognised as one of cricket's powerhouses, back in the
mid 1990s Sri Lanka were regarded rather as Bangladesh or Zimbabwe are now. So
unfancied were the cricketing minnows, in fact, that the ECB had rejected a
request by the Sri Lankans to tour England just a few months before the tournament,
which was co-hosted by Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.

The tournament
started in bizarre fashion for the Tigers: they were effectively given a bye to
the quarter-finals when Australia and West Indies refused to send teams to play
in Sri Lanka over security concerns.

And the
co-hosts made the most of their luck: they cruised past England in the
quarter-finals, reaching their 236 run target with nine overs to spare. Then,
another bizarre twist sent them into the final when rioting at their match
against India in Calcutta caused the match to be abandoned and Sri Lanka to be
declared the winner.

That sent
the hosts into the final against Australia, where Aravinda Da Silva spearheaded
an astonishing win, first taking three wickets as the Aussies were restricted
to 241, then making a century to help see Sri Lanka home with just under four
overs remaining.

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Francis Ouimet wins the US Open, 1913

Ben
Curtis's victory in The Open at Royal St George's was a shock - but it was
nothing on the scale of the surprise when local shop worker Ouimet beat golf's
first global superstar, Harry Vardon, to win his national championship.

Ouimet had
enjoyed a little amateur success in local tournaments and knew the course at
Brookline well: he lived over the road from it, and had caddied there since he
was nine years old before dropping out of school in his early teens to work in
a shop.

The
20-year-old was persuaded to play in the event, and managed to get into a
play-off with Englishman Vardon - a six-times Open champion - and Ted Ray,
another multiple Major winner.

Ouimet was
expected to fold in the three-way, 18-hole play-off, but instead outshone his
illustrious opponents, shooting 72 to Vardon's 77 and Ray's 78 to win the
title.

 

 

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