- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 23, 2006

Welcome to the Sunday Column, a 100-percent-peloton-free zone.

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What Sergio Garcia needs to do today, during his stroll around Royal Liverpool with Tiger Woods, is convince himself it’s just another “Battle at Bighorn.” Then he has a chance.

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Sergio, you may recall, beat Tiger head-to-head in that made-for-TV event in 2000. Of course, the latter, in fairness, was battling a severe case of the sniffles.

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Did some quick research once the Woods-Garcia final pairing was set for Round 4. This is the 11th time Tiger has had the lead going into the final round of a major and the second time he has played with Sergio. (The other being the 2002 U.S. Open.) He hasn’t played with anybody else more than once. How many of his other nine last-day partners can you name? (Answer below.)

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Number of the Week: 145. (Difference in yards between Woods’ 4-iron on No. 14 Friday at Hoylake, resulting in an eagle, and Andrew Tschudin’s drive on No. 15 Thursday in the Thunder Bayou Classic, resulting in a hole-in-one. Tiger’s shot traveled 212 yards, while Tschudin’s went 357.)

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The B.C. Open (site: Endicott, N.Y.) continues to exist, but the Booz Allen (site: Capital of the Free World) doesn’t. For your own sanity, try to push it out of your mind.

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It’s swell that Duke just hired a player’s father to coach the troubled men’s lacrosse team (John Danowski, Matt’s dad). If the school really wanted to straighten out the program, though, it would have hired a player’s mother.

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Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb on former teammate Terrell Owens’ autobiography, “T.O” (as quoted by the Dallas Morning News): “He talked about me so much that I should get credit for being a co-author.”

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McNabb dismissed Owens’ literary effort as a “children’s book.” Since Terrell is 32 and runs his mouth a lot, I’m guessing the book Donovan has in mind is “Old Yeller.”

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Other possibilities: “If I Ran the Circus” and “On Beyond Zebra(s).”

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Thank Heaven for 7-Eleven: My Virginia Tech source sends along a story about Branden Ore, a sophomore running back who had three 100-yard games (and averaged nearly seven yards a carry) in the Hokies’ last six regular season games last fall. Seems Ore withdrew from school in the spring — not to rehab his surgically repaired shoulder, the “official” explanation for his absence, but to work in a 7-Eleven warehouse and grow up a little.

“Best thing I could’ve done in my life,” he told Bill Roth of the Kroger Roth Report. “It gave me a taste of reality. … It was 9-to-5 every day. Working in a big freezer. Forty degrees. Pushing around crates and loading trucks. Everything you see at a 7-Eleven store, I had my hands on it, loading it on the trucks. Going in there with big coats on and wearing ear muffs all day long. It was freezing.

“The time off changed me. … It was my first job ever. It made me think about a whole lot of stuff. There were guys who it was their career and their life. I didn’t want to take that route.”

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Trainer Greg Anderson might be thrown in jail again this week — when a new grand jury convenes — if he still refuses to testify about Barry Bonds. His attorneys are doing everything they can to avoid that, however. They’ve even come up with a novel defense: sycophant-client privilege.

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The Red Sox had consecutive 1-0 games at Fenway Park last week for the first time since 1916. Back-to-back 1-0 games at Fenway … That’s like going to Morton’s two straight nights and dining only on salad.

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After reading about the 26-inning game in the New York-Penn League, I’m wondering if there might not be a way to avoid these marathon, bullpen-busting contests. My suggestion: Play through the 12th and then … Now pitchingJose Canseco.

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In hoops, Paul Pierce signed a three-year, $59 million extension with the Celtics. Now that Pierce has “got his,” we can look forward to him bellyaching — in the grand NBA tradition — that the club doesn’t have enough money to surround him with decent talent.

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The new No. 2 man in the White House communications office — the guy right behind Tony Snow — is a former PR chief of the Dallas Mavericks. Kevin Sullivan put out the press releases for the Mavericks for 18 years before moving on to television and government work. And make no mistake, he told the Dallas Observer, there are plenty of similarities between what he did for the Mavs and what he’s doing for President Bush.

“You deal with crisis communication,” he said. “And if Roy Tarpley [the drug-tormented center] isn’t crisis communication, I don’t know what is.”

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Sounds like a good hire to me. You want a guy in your foxhole who’s been through 15-67, 11-71 and 13-69 — and lived to tell about it.

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Yao Ming is reportedly over the broken foot that cut short his season with the Rockets. At a press conference Friday, he asked reporters, “Do I look like a guy with a foot injury?”

Uh, no, Yao, you look the same as you always do — like the Attack of the 50-Foot Woman’s boyfriend.

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First Johnny Damon got a George Steinbrenner-mandated trim, and now Steve Nash has — of his own volition — traded his lengthy locks for a buzz cut. Or to put it another way, Steve Nash could now be mistaken for Pluto Nash.

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We’ll know the planet has spun off its axis if Ben Wallace starts to wear his hair in a bun.

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Did you hear about sprinter Asafa Powell pulling out of a meet in Greece after being prevented from carrying his spikes on a plane? Give me a break. I mean, what would the world be like if javelin throwers were that temperamental?

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Turning to soccer, old friend Bruce Arena has signed on as coach and sporting director of the New York Red Bulls. What does a sporting director do, exactly, order the bowling shirts?

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Answer to trivia question: Tiger Woods’ other nine playing partners when he’s been in the final group on Sunday in a major are: Costantino Rocca (1997 Masters), Mike Weir (‘99 PGA), Ernie Els (‘00 U.S. Open), David Duval (‘00 British Open), Bob May (‘00 PGA), Phil Mickelson (‘01 Masters), Retief Goosen (‘02 Masters), Chris DiMarco (‘05 Masters) and Jose Maria Olazabal (‘05 British). Only May (66 to 67) and DiMarco (68 to 71) outplayed him on the last day. Tiger won the title every time.

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And finally …

Pete Sampras came out of retirement to lose 5-2 — yes, 5-2 — in a World Team Tennis match. How the mighty have fallen. One of the greatest players in history takes on a guy named Weiner, and he’s the one who ends up playing like a dog.

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