Oh, what a feeling


Nicklaus, Watson turn clock back at USF&G;

In a replay from the 1970s, leader Jack Nicklaus and pursuer Tom Watson will be paired in the last group on the golf course today in the third round of the USF&G; Classic.

The two Hall of Fame members, heroes of an historic confrontation at Turnberry in 1977, gained the two top spots in New Orleans yesterday when most of the field could not handle howling winds.

It is believed to be the first time they have played together in the final twosome since Watson's one-stroke, record-breaking triumph in the British Open on the western coast of Scotland 14 years ago.

Nicklaus' last regular tour triumph came in the 1986 Masters. He reached the tournament halfway point at 137, for a two-shot lead, 7-under par on the English Turn Golf and Country Club course he designed and built near the banks of the Mississippi River.

Watson, tied for second with Tom Sieckmann, has not won since the 1987 Nabisco Championship. (Results on 13C)

* Jimmy Powell's 6-under par 66 gave him a two-shot lead after one round of the $500,000 Vintage Invitational Seniors at Indian Wells, Calif. John Brodie, Walter Zembriski and Bobby Nichols fired 68s to tie for second place, one shot ahead of five other players.

* Barb Bunkowsky carded eight birdies in a 5-under-par 68 and two-stroke lead after the second round of the $500,000 Standard Register tournament at Phoenix. Tied for second place were Betsy King, Danielle Ammaccapane and first-round leader Cathy Gerring.


Top-ranked Stefan Edberg double-faulted on break point once in each set and was upset by unseeded David Wheaton, 6-3, 6-4, in the semifinals of the International Players Championships at Key Biscayne, Fla.

Wheaton will play in tomorrow's final against Jim Courier, who notched his 11th consecutive win by beating Richey Reneberg, 6-4, 6-3, in the semifinals. Nine of the 10 top-ranked men entered the event. None will be in the final.

In the women's final today, top-ranked Monica Seles will play Gabriela Sabatini.


Mackey Sasser's mysterious "tapping" syndrome -- the repeated pounding of the ball into his glove before throwing it to the pitcher -- has cost him the No. 1 catching spot. New York Mets manager Bud Harrelson said Charlie O'Brien will start ahead of Sasser because Sasser still is having problems throwing the ball back to the mound, despite visits to a psychiatrist to overcome the habit.

* Oakland Athletics left-hander Rick Honeycutt underwent surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left shoulder and will be out of action for between six and eight weeks.

* The Seattle Mariners said Tempe, Ariz., officials have broken off talks with the club on a new long-term lease. The team said it will now look elsewhere for a spring training site.

Pro football

A man accused of conspiring with Minnesota Vikings place-kicker Donald Igwebuike to smuggle heroin from Nigeria pleaded guilty in Tampa and agreed to testify during the football player's trial, which begins April 1. Ibezim Ofedu said in his plea agreement that the heroin was to be sold in New York City and that Igwebuike would receive money from the sale.


Towson State will be seeking an unprecedented fifth consecutive Eastern College Athletic Conference gymnastics championship tonight, when it, the University of Maryland, and five other schools compete in the eighth annual championship at the University of Pittsburgh. The Tigers won a year ago with a school and meet-record 188.85 points.

Seniors Tandy Knight (Towson State's all-time scoring leader with 1,730 points), Carri Scott, and Anne Sugden will each be after a fourth straight All-ECAC honor. Other returning All-ECAC choices are junior Wendy Weaver, and sophomores Maureen Greim and Janine Spezio. Completing the field will be New Hampshire, William & Mary, Pittsburgh, Northeastern, and James Madison.

* The Yankee Conference has accepted three schools: James Madison, Northeastern and William & Mary, beginning with the 1993 football season and completing the realignment of the conference into two six-team divisions.

* Debbie Tripp's two-run triple in the top of the seventh inning led University of Maryland-Baltimore County (1-4) to their first ever victory in softball, a 3-2 victory over of George Mason. This is the first year UMBC has had a varsity team in the sport.



Julie Parisien streaked to victory in a women's giant slalom in Waterville Valley, N.H., giving the United States its first World Cup victory in four years. She led -- barely-- after the morning run, but neither Austria's Ulrike Maier or Vreni Schneider could unseat her after her spectacular afternoon run.


Bora Milutinovic, a 46-year-old Yugoslavian, who coached Mexico in the 1986 World Cup and Costa Rica in the 1990 World Cup, said he has agreed to become coach of the U.S. national soccer team, and he will be introduced at a news conference Wednesday in New York.

South Africa

An International Olympic Committee delegation arrives in Johannesburg, South Africa, today to investigate South Africa's progress in dismantling the apartheid system of racial segregation and South African officials are quietly optimistic the visit foreshadows the country's return to Olympic competition, perhaps as soon as next year in Barcelona.


The daily operations of the 1996 Olympics will be handled by Chicago banker A.D. Frazier Jr., who said he plans to run the Games like a business and steer clear of political squabbles. The executive vice president of First Chicago Corp., was named as chief operating officer of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, the No. 2 job, under committee president Billy Payne.

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