Kemper Open field takes a turn for better in '94

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While it's true this week's Kemper Open at Avenel in Potomac has had a "Who's He" instead of a "Who's Who" list of winners of late -- Grant Waite, Morris Hatalsky, Billy Andrade -- that figures to change momentarily with the tourney hosting its best field in a decade: Tom Kite, Payne Stewart, John Daly, Lee Janzen, Lanny Wadkins, Phil Mickelson (back from a broken leg), Curtis Strange, et al.


* Actually, it's no big deal that the New York Rangers, who start the Stanley Cup final against the Vancouver Canucks tonight, haven't claimed the beloved cup over the last 54 seasons. Poor Vancouver, the antithesis of the Big Apple, has thirsted since 1915 when the Vancouver Millionaires took the measure of the Ottawa Senators in a memorable confrontation, the famed Fred "Cyclone" Taylor scoring six goals in a three-game sweep. It was the biggest upset since the Kenora Thistles thumped the perennial champ Montreal Wanderers in 1907.

* One of the saving graces of all games of the NBA Finals being on network (NBC) is that Hubie Brown is finally silenced. The commentator for TNT seems to be talking in pig-Latin after a while and just never knows when to cut his word count 70 percent.


* Tell you what I miss most about the Preakness telecast the last several years: former governor Harry Hughes. He did the job during the post-race presentation with brevity and class as opposed to the present-day political filibuster that has to have a national audience shrieking in laughter.

* To hide substantial price hikes of $3.50, $5.50 and $7 on the best 9,000 seats at USAir Arena, the Washington Bullets hacked $7 off the price of far less desirable seats and nominated themselves for some sort of humanitarian award. To their credit, it is a way of making the game accessible to more people who might like to take a peek at the perennial 50-game losers.

* The Baltimore Neighborhood Basketball League is still scouting up unlimited teams for a league beginning June 18 and running through Aug. 6. No trash talk or taunting allowed. Deadline for registration at 396-7019 is Friday.

* The fourth of four Monster Factory wrassling training schools has opened in Hanover (near the airport) and head trainer Duane Gill cautions "a pro wrestler must be schooled properly in subjects such as physical training, television and radio interviewing, and the fine art of wrestling." The latter doesn't seem to be a priority, does it?

* Season-ticket sales for football have plummeted since Western Maryland changed its nickname from "Green Terrors" to "Green Terror." That's like changing the name of Coke, gang.

* Dream Team II better be at the top of its game come the World Championship hoops tournament in Toronto Aug. 4-14 because it's in the A Pool with Brazil, China and Spain . . . and the team's front line is undersized with only Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Derrick Coleman and Shawn Kemp measuring 6 feet 10 or better.

* A recent study (will these things never end?) discloses that a group of highly trained collegiate middle-distance runners were able to run longer and more comfortably with a boost in their rate of oxygen use on a high-fat, reduced-carbohydrate diet. Of course, glossed over is the fact these kids were nearly skeletons and, as such, proved very adept fat-burners.

* Easily the stat of the year was this one uttered during a recent Stanley Cup playoff debacle: "For the 30th time in this game there's a helmet laying on the ice." Fortunately, not one head was inside.


* Pete Sampras, No. 1 tennis player in the world by a wide margin and closing in on his first French Open title this week, probably didn't help his popularity a whole lot after the recent Vice President Al Gore-Ross Perot NAFTA debate on CNN by saying, "I was actually very impressed with Gore. He seemed like a pretty honest guy for a politician . . . and a Democrat."

* Wouldn't it be cheaper arming the officials with sub-machine guns rather than constructing a fence around RFK Stadium for upcoming World Cup games?

* If there was ever a finer, more relaxed gentleman than Julius Boros on the PGA Tour, he escaped notice. The 74-year-old Boros, who died of a heart attack the other day, was among the best-ever putters and he took about 10 seconds to line up his putt and go.

* How come Patrick Ewing of the Knicks hasn't been doing that self-aggrandizing slow walk with the raised arms (as if parting the Red Sea) since the NBC Eastern Conference final switched to Indianapolis?