Sport Briefs

Posted: Thursday, April 29, 2004

Birch Ridge Golf Course opens

The Birch Ridge Golf Course is open for business, with eight of the nine greens playable. By the weekend, all nine greens are expected to be open.

Last year, the course set a record by opening April 9. This year, the course was not played until April 22.

Thus far, the greens are looking really good. There was little frost in the ground and the greens were already mowed twice.

The hours are currently 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. They will be extended as the day lengthens.

Jockeys hint they might not ride at Derby

LOUISVILLE, Ky. Jockeys John Velazquez and Jose Santos said Wednesday they might not ride in the Kentucky Derby, depending on a judge's ruling on whether they can wear ads during the race.

A group of jockeys challenged the state law banning advertising, promotional or cartoon symbols, arguing it violates the First Amendment. In a second suit, the jockeys argued they should also be allowed to wear a patch with the name of their union, the 1,100-member Jockeys' Guild.

The jockeys want U.S. District Judge John Heyburn to block the state law. The judge delayed his decision until Thursday.

Velazquez and Santos, who are part of the advertising lawsuit, want to wear ads despite a threat that officials would escort them off the racetrack if they do so. The judge's ruling, of course, could make the issue moot.

''If we will be escorted out of the racetrack, there will be no Kentucky Derby, put it that way,'' Velazquez said on ESPN's ''Cold Pizza.''

Nicklaus nearly done with competitive golf

TRAVELERS REST, S.C. It turns out Jack Nicklaus might be finished with more than just the Masters.

He spoke Wednesday about giving up a game he once dominated, winning 73 PGA Tour events and 18 major titles.

''I'm about done playing golf,'' the 64-year-old Nicklaus said at the Nationwide Tour's BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs. He's competing here with his four sons: Jackie, Gary, Steve and Michael.

''I haven't made up my mind whether I'm going to play anymore this year after the Memorial tournament'' in June, Nicklaus said.

At the Masters this month, the six-time champion said it was likely that he would not play at Augusta National in 2005. And that was before he shot consecutive 75s to miss the cut.

Nicklaus has struggled with arthritis, injuries and a faltering game the past few seasons.

''I know I can't compete at the level I used to compete,'' Nicklaus said. ''If I go out and finish in the top 10, and that's a great week, then I know it's time to hang up your spikes.''

U.S. men's soccer tops Mexico

DALLAS Eddie Pope scored in injury time to give the United States a 1-0 victory over Mexico on Wednesday night in an exhibition match.

Pope knocked in the rebound of a missed shot by Taylor Twellman from about 5 yards out to give the United States its sixth win in eight meetings with Mexico, including a 2-0 victory in the second round of the 2002 World Cup. The two countries played to a scoreless tie the last time they met, last May at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

The U.S. defense held Mexico without a shot on goal as goalkeeper Jonny Walker registered his first career shutout in international play. Mexico has failed to score in the last 434 minutes against the Americans. The crowd of about 45,000 at the Cotton Bowl was predominantly Mexican fans.

The United States, which was missing most of its European-based players, squandered numerous chances to score throughout the game before Pope's goal. Twellman's header from 5 yards out in the 75th minute was barely deflected by Mexico goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez for a save.

U.S. midfielder Landon Donovan had two excellent chances to score in the first half. Donovan's shot in the 33rd minute from outside the left corner of the penalty area hit the crossbar. In the 37th minute, Sanchez made a leaping save on another shot by Donovan.

The U.S. national team has a final tuneup June 2 against Honduras in Foxboro, Mass. It begins CONCACAF World Cup qualifying matches with the opener of a home-and-home series against Grenada on June 13 in Columbus, Ohio. Mexico opens the same weekend at home against Dominica.

Should the United States advance through its preliminary qualifying round, the six-game, four-team semifinal round competition will begin in August.

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