Same old Woods, brand-new irons. When the PGA Tour launches its 1998 season from the La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., Tiger Woods, the defending titlist at this event, will be hitting his shots with Titleist irons instead of Mizunos. Of course Woods, 22, the Tour's leading money-winner last year with a record $2,066,833, did enjoy some good fortune with his old clubs. His victory at La Costa a year ago was accomplished when he beat Tom Lehman in a playoff by pulling out a six-iron on the par-3 7th hole and launching his ball (let history record that it was a Titleist) to within six inches of the pin.
?ABC, SATURDAY AND SUNDAY, 3 PM
No, the stars at this event only look like the cast of Scream2. Unlike the 1994 championships, which gave us the Harding-Kerrigan high jinks and the original Scream, the young females featured here have no hooded hoodlums to fear—only each other. Nineteen skaters, including '97 world champion Tara Lipinski (left), 15, and '96 world champion Michelle Kwan, 17, are scheduled to vie in the free skate for spots aboard next month's Olympic caravan. Look for charismatic rebel grrrl Nicole Bobek, 20, or graceful Tonia Kwiatkowski, 26, to join Lipinski and Kwan in the U.S. contingent for Nagano.
?ABC, 8 PM
AFC & NFC Championship Games
In Pittsburgh, where the score and the temperature could be low, will the Steelers' Jerome (the Bus) Bettis (36) have enough gas in his tank to outduel the AFC's top rusher, Denver's Terrell Davis? In San Francisco, can the top-rated defense of the 49ers, who have bowed out of the NFC playoffs the last two years at the hands of Green Bay, contain the Packers' NFL co-MVP quarterback Brett Favre?
?AFC, NBC, 12:30 PM; NFC, FOX, 4 PM
Harlem Globetrotters' 20,000th Game
Vegas casinos aren't offering a line on this game between the Globies and the New Jersey Nationals (coached by lovable loser Red Klotz), and who can blame them? The Globetrotters (who should enter the game with a 71-year record of 19,667-332) have lost once in the past 27 years, a 1995 defeat at the hands of a pickup team led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The site for number 20,000—Remington, Ind.—was chosen for being typical of the towns through which the Trotters have barnstormed since they were founded in Chicago in 1927. Even if the Nationals enter the gym at Tri-County High prepared for the water-bucket trick, they have no one to impede 6'5" Globetrotter forward Michael Wilson, co-holder of the world record for the highest slam dunk (11'10"), or 7'6�" center Dut Mayar, the tallest player to cavort to the strains of Sweet Georgia Brown.
? ESPN2, 7 PM
Sonics at Bulls
Newly bearded Seattle coach George Karl now looks like team mascot Sasquatch. Prodigal Son(ic) guard Dale Ellis, 37, has returned, by means of a trade with the Denver Nuggets, and at week's end was leading the NBA in three-point precision (48.7%). Forward Vin Baker (at left, number 42, shooting against the Detroit Pistons) sings the national anthem. Dynamo point guard Gary Payton says, "The 1996 team"—which made the NBA Finals—"was great, but we can do a lot more." Smells like team spirit, something Seattle lacked last season, and it had propelled the Sonics to the NBA's best record (26-6) through Sunday. This matchup pits I-can Seattle against Chicago's icon, Michael Jordan, who scored 26 points in the Bulls' 91-90 loss in Seattle on Nov. 25 and who has since boosted his Pippenless team to the best record (22-10) in the Eastern Conference.
?TNT, 8 PM
All times Eastern. Schedules are subject to change.