Mike and the Small Ball
Basketball's loss is golf's gain. Michael Jordan hits the Tour this week at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. In two weeks he'll partner Tiger Woods in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, testing every one of that tournament's 297 marshals. The Hope is Tigerless, but not toothless, as David Duval and '98 champ Fred Couples are expected to join celeb jocks such as Jordan, Charles Barkley, Jerry Rice and Pete Sampras. "There's an advantage to [playing with celebrities]," says Couples. "With so many spectators, some get in the way of balls that miss the fairway." Fans, be advised: Gerald Ford is supposed to play, too.
Jeff Sluman won the Sony Open, in Honolulu, but the big winner was the revamped Waialae Country Club, where 87 fewer players broke par than in '98, when John Huston set the four-round Tour scoring record of 28 under. Sluman was nine under....
Tom Lehman got a glowing progress report from his doctor last week in Los Angeles but says his original plan to return from shoulder surgery in late January was "wishful thinking." He now hopes to be back for the Feb. 24-28 Andersen Consulting World Match Play.
In a tournament overshadowed by the announcement of new criteria for induction into the tour's Hall of Fame, Kelly Robbins shot a course-record 64 on Sunday to defend her title at the Inaugural. While Robbins has been victorious by her third start in each of the last three years, she has never won more than twice in a season....
The Futures tour is now the official minor league of the LPGA and will send its top three finishers onto the big tour, with the next seven on the money list advancing to the final stage of Q school.
Jack Nicklaus finally scheduled hip replacement surgery for Jan. 27, ending his streak of playing in consecutive Masters at 40. With Doug Ford opting not to participate this year, the next longest streak after Arnold Palmer's 44-and-running belongs to Raymond Floyd, who has played at Augusta every year since 1965.
Breaking a 10-month winless streak, Ernie Els won his third South Africa PGA, at Houghton Golf Club in Johannesburg. After the victory he received a congratulatory phone call from Nelson Mandela....