The PlayersChampionship Sawgrass has been called home to golf's fifth major, which is whythe big names flock to Ponte Vedra, Fla., every year. The unforgiving roughdoesn't favor a spray hitter such as Tiger Woods (who hasn't won thistournament since 2001), but it plays right into the hands of short--butstraight--hitter Fred Funk, who last year at age 48 became the oldest championin TPC history. Thursday and Friday ESPN noon; Saturday NBC 2 p.m.; Sunday NBC1:30 p.m.
Figure SkatingWorld Championships Where are the gold medalists? Turin ice dancing champsTatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov are skipping the event in Calgary, as iswomen's champ Shizuka Arakawa. That will open the door for several U.S.hopefuls: the team of Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto (right) and Sasha Cohen andJohnny Weir, who will look to capitalize on the absence of men's gold medalistEvgeni Plushenko of Russia. Thursday and Friday ESPN 7:30 p.m.; Saturday andSunday check listings
March 27, 2006
City of RomeMarathon It may lack the prestige of Boston and the star power of New York, butany race that begins and ends in the shadow of the Colosseum can't be tooshabby. More than 5,000 runners--a record for the race--from 70 countries willconvene in the Eternal City, including 2005 winner Alberico Di Cecco, whofinished sixth in New York last November.
Mavericks atPistons In Detroit and Dallas everything starts with D: The Mavs are holdingopponents to 92.6 points per game (the sixth-best average in the NBA). ButDallas has got nothing on Detroit, which allows just 89.9. Part of the reasonthe Eastern Conference champs are so tough: Ben Wallace, who is ninth in theleague in blocks (2.19 per game) and rarely misses a chance to swat a shot. Onescout swears Wallace has "the best block per opportunity ratio in theleague." ESPN 7:30 p.m.
Extreme PokerChampionship By virtue of winning the 2005 Extreme Poker title on the floor ofthe Caribbean off St. Kitts (left), Juha Helppi earned the right to pick thisyear's venue. His choice: a 60,000-cubic-foot ice castle he had built in hisbackyard in Kemi, Finland. Six players will shuffle up--and muffle up--todetermine this year's champ.
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The McDonald'sAll-American Basketball Game, the nation's premier high school hoops showcase,is shaping up like a Duke--North Carolina jayvee affair. At least five of the24 participants in San Diego will ply their trade on Tobacco Road next year,including Glenbrook North (Ill.) sharpshooter Jon Scheyer (above), a futureBlue Devil who has drawn comparisons with Pete Maravich. Should Scheyeractually miss a shot, the battle for the board will involve Ohio State--boundseven-footer Greg Oden, who'll be playing for the East, and Texas signee KevinDurant of the West, the top two big-man recruits in the country. ESPN 10p.m.