? ESPN THURSDAY AND FRIDAY 11 AM AND 5 PM; NRC 3 PM
Ah, the pitter-patter of putters. When grand old Pinehurst No. 2 (couldn't they have reserved No. 1 for this shindig?) plays host to the Open for the first time, the turtle-backed slopes of its greens may drive normally staid fellows to Dalyesque fits of frustration. David Duval (right) and Tiger Woods head the field as each tries to win his first Open. (Wouldn't it be nice to see these "rivals" play in the final twosome during the closing round on June 20 on NBC?) But our sentimental choice is Tom Lehman, who has more than a layman's understanding of major bummers: He began the final round of each of the past four Opens standing no lower than second and has never won.
Mystics at Comets
?NBC 4 PM
The 'mique—No. 1 draft pick Chamique Holdsclaw—shall inherit the league. Or so the WNBA hopes. Why else would expansion Washington, which in its first season finished a dismal 3-27, be featured twice this week? The first appearance comes today against two-time defending champion Houston. Wearing number 23 and armed with a Nike deal, Holdsclaw then travels to her hometown, New York City, to face the Liberty (Monday, ESPN, 7:30 p.m.). At this stage of her pro career, and given her nonsupporting cast, forgive her if she's more ordinary than Jordanary.
Stanley Cup Finals
? ESPN SATURDAY AND TUESDAY 8 PM; FOX THURSDAY 8 PM (IF NECESSARY)
The last time Buffalo hosted a Stanley Cup finals, in 1975, there was more than playoff atmosphere in the air. The stifling latespring heat and humidity in unair-conditioned Memorial Auditorium gave rise to a palpable fog. Peering at blood through knee-high clouds, fans wondered if they were at a KISS concert. Tonight's Game 3 action at Marine Midland Arena should be climate-and goalie-controlled. Against the Stars' Ed Belfour and the Sabres' Dominik Hasek, two of the NHL's best netminders, scorers like Joe Nieuwendyk of Dallas and Jason Woolley of Buffalo may succumb to vapor lock.
Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel
?HBO 10 PM
In the best of four new segments, SI senior writer Frank Deford sits down for an entertaining chat with the major league umpires' union leader, Richie Phillips, in hopes of better understanding the deteriorating relationship between the umps and mankind. Says Phillips, "Umpires feel as though, hey, if you don't think that we're very important, let's see if you can do without [us]." Also featured: a Real Sports/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED piece on tennis's Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, and their dad, Richard.
? NBC WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY 9 PM
Through Monday there was still hope that we'd see the first Finals matching two former ABA franchises, the Pacers and the Spurs. (Let's have Louie Dampier toss up the ceremonial red-white-and-blue jump ball.) Tonight's game, which could be the first or second of the Finals, depending on when the Eastern finals end, will be played at the Alamodome, where the backboards are not all that's square. The Admiral, David Robinson, the admirable Tim Duncan and the admeasuring point guard Avery Johnson will make the Spurs the favorites, on and off the court, whether they host the Knicks or the Pacers.
ALL TIMES EASTERN. SCHEDULES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE. SOURCE: NIELSEN SPORTS MARKETING SERVICE