Sorenstam to play Colonial
FORT WORTH, Texas, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Annika Sorenstam, the best female golfer in the world, has accepted an invitation to play in this year's Colonial on the PGA Tour.
Tournament officials made the announcement Wednesday.
Sorenstam will become the first woman to play in a PGA Tour event since Babe Zaharias competed in the 1945 Los Angeles Open.
The Colonial will be held May 22-25 at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, the former home of the late Ben Hogan.
"Our tournament has historically recognized and supported exceptional players who otherwise would not qualify for our invitational event," said tournament Chairman Dee Finley. "Annika's accomplishments show that she is certainly deserving."
Last year, Sorenstam won 13 events worldwide, the most by anyone in 40 years, and shattered the LPGA Tour scoring record.
Rumors had swirled that she was interested in competing in a PGA Tour event if the ideal scenario became a reality.
"There were many invitations, but the golf course and schedule of the Colonial were ideal," Sorenstam said. "For all the well-wishers who want to know why I would accept such a challenge, the answer is simple. I am curious to see if I can compete in a PGA Tour event."
The Colonial Country Club is a par-70, 7,080-yard layout known for its doglegs, giving Sorenstam a chance to hit from the same spots as her male counterparts by taking the distance factor out of many holes.
"I think this is a perfect venue for her to start," said Phil Mickelson, the third-ranked men's player in the world.
He is playing in this week's PGA Tour event in La Jolla, Calif.
Sorenstam, who two years ago became the first woman in history to crack 60 in a competitive round, doesn't have many flaws, if any. She hits it straight and long compared to others on the LPGA Tour, and is one of its best putters.
"I think she'll definitely make the cut and finish around 20th, that's my guess," Mickelson said.
Asked how he will do if he's entered, Mickelson said, "I hope 19th or better, but I don't know."
Colonial claims the longest-running PGA Tour event still held at its original site, staging the tournament each year since 1946. As an invitational, it offers one of the strongest fields all season.
"Our course has provided a great platform to showcase the world's best players for more than 50 years," said Colonial President Jim Thigpen. "We look forward to having a future Hall of Famer such as Annika compete at the Colonial Golf Course."
Sorenstam will be the first of at least two females to play in a PGA Tour event this season. Club pro Suzy Whaley is expected to participate in the Hartford Open in July after qualifying last year by winning a sectional tournament in Connecticut.
Michelle Wie, a 13-year-old from Hawaii, failed to qualify for the Sony Open last month, but is expected to play in at least one Canadian Tour event this summer.
Woman to coach a men's team
NASHVILLE, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Tennessee State Athletic Director Theresa Phillips is expected to make history Thursday when she coaches the men's basketball team against Austin Peay.
Phillips would become the first woman to coach a men's Division I basketball game. The former women's coach at Tennessee State will take over the team after suspending interim coach Hosea Lewis following Monday night's game with Eastern Kentucky.
In that contest, 19 players were ejected following a benches-clearing brawl. The Ohio Valley Conference is expected to announce the results of its investigation into the fight on Wednesday.
"Monday night's altercation is certainly not indicative of the outstanding athletic spirit of the OVC or Tennessee State University," Phillips said.
Only three women have coached Division I men's teams before -- Mary Fenlon at Georgetown, Stephanie Ready at Coppin State, and Bernadette Locke at Kentucky. All were assistants.
"I'm not the coach; I'm coaching this game," Phillips said. "I'm the athletics director who has 19 years of coaching experience, who's able to come in and do this. I didn't want to put our young assistant, Chris Graves, in that position, so I'm taking that responsibility."
Phillips coached the Tennessee State women from 1989-2000, going 212-189. She took a program that had been 2-25 and went 12-14 in her first season.
The Tigers are on their third coach of the season.
Nolan Richardson III resigned Jan. 8, two weeks after Phillips suspended him indefinitely for bringing a gun into the school's gym.
Richardson, the son of the former Arkansas coach, said he got the gun out of his car during an argument with Lewis, then his assistant, when only four players showed up for a Christmas night practice.
"At TSU, we look forward to completing our season on a positive note," Phillips said.
Sanderson among Sullivan finalists
ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Cael Sanderson, who became the first wrestler to complete an undefeated collegiate career, Wednesday was named one of five finalists for the Sullivan Award.
Also named were Olympic gold medal-winning figure skater Sarah Hughes, short track speed skating star Apolo Anton Ohno, record-setting swimmer Natalie Coughlin, and two-sport paralympian Chris Waddell.
Sanderson won his fourth NCAA wrestling title last year while at Iowa State, finishing a 159-0 career, and was named Outstanding Wrestler at the NCAA Championships for the fourth consecutive season.
The 2002 national champion at 185 pounds, Sanderson followed his college career by defeating 1996 Olympic champion Khajimurd Magomedov of Russia in an exhibition match.
Hughes won the gold medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics by delivering one of the most technically demanding programs ever performed. She also finished second at Skate America, and third at both the U.S. Championships and the Grand Prix Final.
Ohno became the first American male to earn an Olympic medal of any kind and a gold in short track speed skating, winning silver in the 1,000 meters and gold in the 1,500. He also won seven of eight events at the World Championships.
Coughlin broke 11 records, four world, three American and four NCAA, on the way to NCAA Swimmer of the Year and USA Swimming Athlete of the Year honors. A Sullivan finalist in 2001, she became the first woman to swim the 100-meter backstroke in under a minute.
Waddell won three alpine skiing medals at the 2002 Winter Paralympic Games, placed fourth in the 100 and sixth in the 200 at the IPC Athletics World Championships. He is paralyzed from the waist down following a skiing accident.
Presented by the Amateur Athletic Union, the James E. Sullivan Memorial Award honors the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. It has been presented annually by the AAU since 1930 as a salute to the union's founder.
The winner will be named March 18 at the New York Athletic Club following a reception for the finalists.
Garcia wins arbitration case
PEORIA, Ariz., Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Righthander Freddy Garcia will receive a $3 million raise this season after winning his arbitration case with the Seattle Mariners Wednesday.
A panel of three arbitrators ruled that Garcia will receive $6.875 million after making his second All-Star appearance last season. The 26-year-old Garcia made $3.8 million in 2002 and went 16-10 with a 4.39 ERA.
The Mariners had offered him $5.9 million.
"The arbitration process is never very comfortable for either side," said Mariners General Manager Pat Gillick. "As I said before, this wasn't an adversarial situation, it's simply a difference of opinion over compensation. We are looking for big things from Freddy again this season, and we know he feels the same way."
Garcia had his best season in 2001, when he was 18-6 with an American League-leading 3.05 ERA.
Players and owners have split four hearings decided thus far.
Astros, Lugo come to terms
HOUSTON, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- The Houston Astros Wednesday agreed to terms on a one-year contract with infielder Julio Lugo, their only remaining arbitration-eligible player.
Financial terms were not revealed. Lugo asked for $1.8 million while the club offered $1.5 million.
Lugo made $325,000 last year, when he batted .261 with eight home runs and 35 RBI in 88 games before suffering a season-ending broken left forearm on Aug. 12. He made 81 starts at shortstop, where he is expected to play this season with a new double play partner, All-Star Jeff Kent.
Lugo, 27, played 140 games in 2001. He has a .269 average with 28 homers and 112 RBI in 344 career contests. Last season, he made only eight errors in 334 chances.
The Astros also have signed veteran righthander Anthony Telford to a minor league deal.
Telford, who turns 37 on March 6, has a career major league record of 22-25 with a 4.17 ERA. He has nine career starts and 333 games.
He broke into professional baseball in 1987 after being drafted in the third round by Baltimore. He reached the majors in 1990 with the Orioles, and has pitched in nine big league seasons with Baltimore 1990-91, '93; Montreal 1997-2001; and Texas 2002.
A native of San Jose, Calif., Telford pitched in 20 games for the Texas Rangers last year. He was 2-1 with a 6.46 ERA out of the bullpen. Telford was also 8-2 with a 3.40 ERA in 35 relief appearances for Triple-A Oklahoma.
The Baltimore Orioles Wednesday brought back B.J. Surhoff, signing the veteran outfielder to a minor league contract and inviting him to spring training.
Financial terms were not disclosed for Surhoff, who made $4.5 million in an injury-plagued 2002 season.
Surhoff, 38, played in just 25 games for the Atlanta Braves in 2002 before suffering a torn ACL on April 27 that ended his season. He batted .293 with nine RBI.
"B.J. gives us a proven major league veteran, both on and off the field," said General Manager Jim Beattie. "He is a quality major league hitter and will add to our outfield depth."
Surhoff, one of the most fan-popular players in franchise history, signed with the Orioles in 1996. He played 4 1/2 seasons in Baltimore, batting .292 with 102 homers and 426 RBI. In that span, he played in two American League Championship Series and was an All-Star in 1999.
Surhoff was traded to the Braves on July 31, 2000, but continued to maintain a house in the Maryland area.
The 16-year veteran spent his first nine major league seasons with Milwaukee, and is a career .281 hitter with 170 homers and 1,028 RBI.
Surhoff has played eight positions in the major leagues, and spent most of his first tenure in Baltimore in the outfield.
He is the second veteran in as many days to agree to a minor league deal with the Orioles. Righthander Rick Helling signed on Tuesday.
Also, the Orioles avoided arbitration with Jerry Hairston Jr. by signing the second baseman to a one-year contract. Financial terms were not disclosed for Hairston, who hit .268 with five homers and 32 RBI in 2002.
Back surgery for McEachern
ATLANTA, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Durable left wing Shawn McEachern of Atlanta was scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday to repair a herniated disk.
Team officials say he is expected to miss six weeks.
McEachern played in at least 77 games in four of the past five seasons, but has been hampered by a groin injury and disk problem this season. He has 10 goals and 16 assists in 46 games.
McEachern, who turns 34 on Feb. 28, has scored just one goal since Nov. 28 for the rejuvenated Thrashers, who are 7-3-1 since Bob Hartley took over as coach.
In 801 career games, McEachern has collected 237 goals and 279 assists with stops in Boston, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Ottawa.
In another move, Atlanta assigned defenseman Mike Weaver to Chicago of the American Hockey League. The 24-year-old Weaver has five assists and 20 penalty minutes in 40 games.