Tiger Woods saga named the AP's sports story of the year

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Well, what do you know -- Tiger Woods won something after all.

Woods' saga has been named the Associated Press' story of the year, beating out the New Orleans Saints' run, LeBronomania and the World Cup.

Which, if you'll pardon a little home-team partisanship, is exactly how it should be. The Woods saga ran literally the length of the entire year to date, from his "where is he?" disappearance to his near-victory at the Chevron earlier this month. His stint in a sex-addiction rehab clinic, his apology, his return at the Masters, his struggle to find his game, his divorce, his gradual return to form ... there was never a month that Woods didn't make headlines. (See the complete Woods timeline right here.)

Sure, Woods' story may not have had the gravitas of a Shakespeare play or a Greek tragedy; Hamlet and Oedipus didn't chase Perkins' waitresses, after all. But the story of a great man brought low by his own failings, then trying to rebuild himself day by day, always resonates. Add in Woods' worldwide celebrity, the sex element, and a heavy layer of tabloid scrutiny, and you've got the ultimate story to capture the nation's attention. Everyone had an opinion, everyone had at least one tendril of the story that caught their interest, from sports fans to celebrity stargazers. When your grandmother is talking about Tiger Woods, you know something's up.

Woods, of course, would be happy to go back to being the biggest story in golf, not the biggest story in sports or in media. He's taking all the proper steps to refocus on his game, and early indications are that he's on the right track. For him, though, the sooner 2010 ends, the better.

The rankings were tabulated from 176 ballots submitted from the U.S. news organizations that belong to the Associated Press. Each ballot ranked the top-10 stories, with the top story receiving 10 points and the 10th receiving one point.

The other top stories, following Woods:

New Orleans Saints: They brought an unlikely Super Bowl championship to a city still suffering under the crush of Hurricane Katrina.

NBA Free Agency: LeBron James and a host of other free agents hit the market ... and headed south. Congratulations, Miami, you've got your very own New York Yankees.

World Cup: Yes, it was a huge deal for South Africa, but if you can tell me who played in the championship game and who won it all, you get a cookie. (Spain in a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands.)

San Francisco Giants: A surprising victory for an afterthought baseball team. The Giants brought San Francisco its first World Series title since the team moved to Cali in 1958.

NFL concussion drama: Apparently getting hit in the head by a guy in armor running full speed can be damaging to your brain. Huh. Who knew?

Jimmie Johnson: He's quietly piling up the most dominant run in sports, five NASCAR championships and counting. If he were the Yankees or the Lakers, sportswriters would have built cathedrals in his honor by now.

Brett Favre: Remember, not every story is a positive one. And little Favre did this year, from his annual retirement two-step to his performance on-field, was positive. The revelation that he sent texts while somehow forgetting to wear clothes was just more fuel for the fires of Favremania.

UConn women's basketball: This is fairly impressive -- UConn's women's team won its second straight national championship behind a second straight undefeated season. They could totally smoke the L.A. Clippers.

John Wooden: The Wizard of Westwood passed away in June at age 99, leaving behind the most impressive coaching resume in sports history. His UCLA teams won 10 championships, including seven consecutive from 1967 to 1973.