Football and basketball fans might think this time of year is boring, but this past weekend was one of the most meaningful sports weekends we've seen in a long time.
On top of Spain winning the UEFA European Championships, three gargantuan sports icons of our time—Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt—were in action and turned in performances that have potentially big implications on the legacies they will one day leave.
Woods held off Bo Van Pelt to win the AT&T National on Sunday, passing Jack Nicklaus on the all-time wins list and pulling within eight of Sam Snead for the all-time PGA record.
Phelps, who won eight swimming golds at the Beijing Olympics, out-dueled rival Ryan Lochte in three consecutive events at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials.
Bolt, meanwhile, lost to young compatriot Yohan Blake in both the 100 and 200 meters at the Jamaican Olympic trials. He holds the world record in both events, but his races show he may not be the favorite heading into London. Bolt claimed there was a distraction at the start of the 100, but the video showed that Blake was actually faster down the stretch of the race as he blew by the field and won easily.
Down the stretch was where Woods truly shined. He nailed a slow-rolling 30-footer for birdie on the 15th, scrambled for par on the 17th to take a one-shot lead and split the fairway with his drive on 18, hitting a remarkable approach shot to seal the win.
The never-ending debate in the golf world has been whether Woods is "back" to being the best player on the planet. While the victory wasn't in a major tournament, it puts Tiger atop the money list for the season and makes him the only player on tour with three victories this year.
There were numerous players in contention at the start of the day, and Woods scratched and clawed his way to victory. At one point in the tournament, he went 41 holes without a bogey.
He's starting to look like a guy who can win five more majors over the next decade to pass Nicklaus for the most in history.
Phelps could retire today and still be considered the greatest swimmer ever, but any talk of the 27-year-old giving way to Lochte has been quieted. He beat Lochte in three of four events in which they squared off, and although Lochte has been the better swimmer over the past two years, the era of Michael Phelps is not over. He will swim in all eight of his events for London, and is the defending champion in all of them.
"It shows that I can do an event program like this at a high level again," Phelps said (via USA Today). "I think we were struggling over the last couple of years doing one event at this level."
Lochte put things in perspective by calling the trials "a training meet" and nothing more.
That's an interesting point to consider when looking back on the weekend for both Bolt and Phelps. Trials are trials, and London is the place where it really counts. However, saying that Bolt or Lochte were not giving a full effort is ludicrous. This meant something.
So maybe you, like most other Americans, yawn at soccer and didn't even know who was playing for the European title. However, the names Woods, Bolt and Phelps resonate with every sports fan, and it was quite a weekend for all three.