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For Birthday, Woods Gets an Even-Par 70

From Staff and Wire Reports

Golf got the better of Tiger Woods on his birthday.

The world’s best golfer turned 24 Thursday as he played in the Williams World Challenge at Scottsdale, Ariz. He got a bear hug from his dad on the first tee and a rendition of “Happy Birthday” from the gallery around the 18th green, but otherwise, the round was one Woods would just as soon forget.

Struggling most of the day with his swing and occasionally mumbling, Woods shot an even-par 70, giving him a five-under 135. He’s two shots behind Tom Lehman, who shot 65 Thursday, and one behind David Duval. Duval, paired with Woods, shot 69.

“It was one of those days,” Woods said.

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A pro-am will be played today, with the third and final rounds on Saturday and Sunday. Twelve of the world’s top-ranked players are competing in this final off-season event, with the winner earning $1 million from a purse of $3.5 million.

College Football

Five days after losing the Aloha Bowl to Wake Forest, Arizona State lost two of its starters a year early. Marvel Smith, an anchor on the Sun Devil offensive line and an All-Pac-10 selection, and receiver Tariq McDonald announced they will give up their final year of eligibility and make themselves available in April’s NFL draft.

The 6-foot-6, 305-pound Smith said he reached his decision not because of the financial potential, but because he had achieved what he’d set out to do in college, which was to become one of the nation’s top linemen. Smith is to graduate in May with a degree in interdisciplinary studies.

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McDonald, on the other hand, said the decision was financial as he raises a 2 1/2-year-old daughter with his girlfriend. McDonald was third on the team last season with 33 catches for 386 yards.

Nevada Las Vegas receiver Nate Turner has been charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of justice. If convicted, the 21-year-old Turner, a junior, faces a maximum $1,000 fine and six months in jail, a police department spokesman in Henderson, Nev., said.

Turner allegedly approached a woman in a Las Vegas-area mall Dec. 23 and said, “You know what could happen” if she didn’t talk to him, the spokesman said. Turner tried to run from police and was arrested at gunpoint.

Baseball

After finishing two months of radiation therapy for prostate cancer, New York Yankee Manager Joe Torre pronounced himself fit.

Torre, who has led the Yankees to three World Series titles in four seasons, had surgery March 18 after tests discovered prostate cancer in an early stage. Torre, 59, returned to the bench May 18, then resumed radiation therapy after the Yankees swept the World Series from Atlanta in October.

The Oakland Athletics agreed to one-year contracts with outfielder Rich Becker and right-hander Scott Service. Becker, 27, hit .258 with six home runs and 26 runs batted in over 129 games in 1999 with Milwaukee and Oakland. Service, 32, was 5-5 with a 6.09 earned-run average in 68 games for the Kansas City Royals last season.

John Dowd, the man whose investigation led to Pete Rose’s banishment from baseball, said Rose would still be in baseball today if he had admitted he had a problem with gambling.

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“If Pete would have admitted [his mistakes], baseball would have helped him,” Dowd said during a speech for the Scarborough (Maine) High baseball program. “He’d probably be in the game today.”

Fred Saigh Jr., whose decision to sell the Cardinals to an Anheuser-Busch heir kept the team in St. Louis, died early Wednesday. He was 94. Saigh owned the team for five years, before legal problems forced him to sell in 1953. Saigh sold the team for $3.75 million to August Busch Jr., who agreed to keep the team in the city. Others wanting to move the team had offered more money.

Miscellany

Blynn DeNiro, a trainer for the Mighty Ducks from 1993-95 and assistant trainer for the Rams from 1989-92, died earlier this week at his home in Orange County.

Muhammad Ali will ring the opening bell at the final trading session of the year of the New York Stock Exchange today as part of the Exchange’s Bridging the Millennium series in which distinguished individuals open or close trading through Jan. 7. Hank Aaron and Joe Namath previously opened trading.

To ring in 2000, the final race tonight on the harness card at Pompano Park in Florida will start in 1999 and end in 2000. The Millennium Mile is the 14th race on the New Year’s Eve card. Nine pacers will go to the post at 11:59 p.m. tonight and cross the wire shortly after midnight on Jan. 1. In case computers at the track fail because of Y2K problems, patrons will be given flashlights as they enter the track.

A lawsuit alleges the owner of a Dallas trucking company misused corporate funds to make payments to University of Arkansas players, coaches and trainers.

Ray Hall, a minority shareholder of Dallas-based J&H; Truck Service Inc., is suing company chairman Tedford Harrod Sr., his wife Linda, and three Harrod-owned companies, accusing them of embezzling money. The lawsuit says Harrod wanted to buy influence with the university and did that by writing checks to players, coaches and trainers for their gasoline, credit card and telephone bills.

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