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Wednesday, June 11, 1997

Harper cut, Slash signed

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AP Football Writer

Whether Kordell Stewart wins the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting
quarterback job or not, he will be getting the kind of money bigtime NFL
passers earn.

Known as ``Slash'' for his quarterback-running back-receiver roles,
Stewart just might settle in this season as the Steelers' No. 1 QB.
Management seems to think it's likely, giving him a new contract Tuesday
that pays him $9 million over four years, with a $2.65 million signing

``I still have to get out on the field and prove myself,'' said Stewart,
who will compete with Jim Miller for the starting spot. ``In my heart
and in my soul, I know that I'm very capable of leading this team. Once
I get the opportunity, I have to seize it.''

Alvin Harper would like another opportunity to seize after he was cut
Tuesday by Tampa Bay.

The Bucs cleared about $1 million under the salary cap by releasing
Harper, who had two disappointing seasons after helping Dallas win two
Super Bowls. Harper signed a four-year, $10.66 million contract in 1995
with Tampa Bay and was due to earn $1.95 million in 1997.

``This is a move that we believe is in the best interest of our football
team,'' general manager Rich McKay said. ``We wish Alvin well. However,
decisions like this must be made.''

Harper was slowed by injuries and had just 65 catches for 922 yards and
three touchdowns in two years. He's expected to sign with the Washington

Washington was busy Tuesday, signing former Chargers defensive lineman
Chris Mims to a one-year, $300,000 contract. He will replace Sterling
Palmer at end

Mims, 26, had weight problems in San Diego and off-field legal and
financial troubles.

After a career-high 11 sacks in 1994, when the Chargers went to the
Super Bowl, Mims reported to camp overweight and had just two sacks in
1995. He had six sacks last season, forced two fumbles and had two
fumble recoveries.

San Francisco moved to solidify its placekicking by signing Gary
Anderson to a one year, $275,000 deal.

The 49ers, who lost Jeff Wilkins to St. Louis in free agency, grabbed
the 37-year-old Anderson, one of the most accurate kickers in NFL
history who was with Philadelphia last year.

Anderson played for Pittsburgh for most of his 15-year career and spent
the past two seasons with the Eagles. He has converted 356 field goals,
fourth on the career list, and has scored 100 or more points in five of
the past six seasons.

Anderson said the unpredictable San Francisco weather should suit him.

``Playing most of my career in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, I'm sure it
was part of the 49ers' decision that I'm used to dealing with crazy wind
circumstances,'' he said.

Philadelphia reached a deal with Jon Harris, who became the first
opening-round draft pick to sign this year. The defensive end from
Virginia, a surprise first-rounder most draft analysts believed he would
go in the third round is expected to replace William Fuller, a Pro Bowl
selection the last three years who left signed as a free agent with San

``It's a big relief. We pretty much finished the contract signing early so I could just concentrate on football,'' Harris said.

U.S. Open is more to Montgomerie's liking

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AP Sports Writer

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) -- Colin Montgomerie had a daring smile about him on
the day he arrived at the U.S. Open, his eyes gleaming as he talked
about his chances of winning his first major.

Maybe his confidence comes from his recent play, especially having won
the European Grand Prix last week on top of winning the European section
of the Andersen Consulting World Championship of Golf.

Or maybe he simply has forgotten how Tiger Woods buried him at the

It's most likely because of the layout at Congressional Country Club, a
7,213-yard course where the fairways look even tighter because of the
way they are framed by the most severe rough golfers will see all year.

``It's no secret that I tend to drive the ball pretty straight, and
therefore I can hit my iron shots in the fairway and have birdie
putts,'' Montgomerie said Tuesday. ``And that's why I love this form of

The record bears that out - a third-place finish behind Tom Kite at
Pebble Beach in his first U.S. Open in 1992, a playoff loss to Ernie Els
at Oakmont in 1994, and in contention again last year at Oakland Hills
before faltering over the final nine.

But it's also no secret what happened to Montgomerie at Augusta
National. Trailing Woods by three strokes after two rounds, he relished
the chance to go head-to-head, wondering aloud whether Woods could
handle his major championship experience.

Woods answered him with a 65 on his way to a record-setting victory,
while Montgomerie huffed and puffed to a 74-81 on a most forgettable

``I think it was obvious to all that witnessed Augusta that Tiger Woods
was very comfortable playing that golf course,'' Montgomerie said. ``And
I think it will come to pass that we see him to be comfortable playing
that golf course for the next decade or so.

``Here, it is different,'' he said, offering a veiled challenge. ``The
playing field is more level here than it would be at an Augusta-type of
course. So, we're looking forward to how he's going to perform - and how
we're going to perform against him.''

One thing already is clear - Woods will be playing a different game than
most others.

Even though Congressional is the longest U.S. Open course in history,
Woods said he probably wouldn't hit his driver on more than three holes.
Told that some players said they would hit irons from the tees,
Montgomerie rolled his eyes and scoffed.

``Good luck to them,'' he said.

Then he was told the statement came from Woods.

``Well, there you go,'' Montgomerie said. ``He's different, right? I'm
obviously behind him. Who isn't on length? But I'd like to think I was
as accurate, if not more so.''

The talk at Congressional goes beyond the rough that has grown to almost
10 inches in some patches, the 475-yard sixth hole that took Nick Price
a driver and a crisp 1-iron to reach in two, or the finishing par-3 over

It comes down to this: Keep the ball in the short grass. And that's why
Montgomerie feels good about his chances.

``I think it goes without saying that all U.S. Open courses suit me, the
way I've been brought up and the way I've been playing golf the last 10
years,'' he said.

The way he's been playing lately doesn't hurt. After gathering himself
from his Masters meltdown, Montgomerie won a berth in the World
Championship match-play event, finished fifth at the Volvo PGA
Championship and then won last week with an 18-under-par 270.

And the U.S. Open, he is quick to point out, is no place to start
looking for your game.

``The people in the practice round with coaches trying to work on swing
thoughts and what have you, I don't think they'll be on the leader board
this week,'' he said. ``Nobody coming here who's not playing well won't
win. You have to bring what you might call your A-game with you, to use
an American term.''

And then another smile, knowing that it's not just an American term.
It's a Tiger term.

For as much as Montgomerie relishes the challenge of the U.S. Open,
where par is a reward instead of a consolation, he already has tasted
the mentality of the tour against Tiger.

``We're all anxious to find out how he copes with this form of golf
against the Augusta form of golf,'' Montgomerie said. ``And I think if
he copes with this and wins here, then we've all got to look somewhere
else. ``Because if he's winning Augusta and here, then we're all in trouble.''

Game 5 could determine whether
Chicago's dynasty is crumbling

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AP Sports Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The thunderstorms that rumbled through Salt Lake
County this week may have heralded the crumbling of a dynasty.

The Chicago Bulls seem unnerved as they approach tonight's critical Game
5 of the NBA playoffs, their trademark air of invincibility tarnished by
a whisper of self-doubt.

With Michael Jordan on the team, the Bulls haven't lost three straight
games since the start of the 1990-91 season.

Yet a loss to Utah tonight would make it three straight Jazz victories
in their uproariously noisy Delta Center and send the best-of-7 series
back to Chicago with the Bulls down 3-2.

``It's hard to imagine being in that position,'' Scottie Pippen said.

While maintaining they remain confident they can win their fifth NBA
title of the Jordan era and trying to ignore Dennis Rodman's Mormon
insults and Las Vegas getaways, the Bulls admit the Jazz are their most
formidable challenge.

``They're giving us everything we can ask for,'' Pippen said. ``Five,
six days ago, everyone was predicting that we would sweep this team. Now
everything is turned around. ... It's been very difficult for us. It's
more difficult for us than any team we've faced in the finals.''

Tonight's game probably is the biggest sporting event in Utah's history
and is the last in a remarkable season at the Delta Center, where the
Jazz are 48-3 and have won 23 in a row, the last 10 in the playoffs.

``With the crowd and the way we play here, I wouldn't say we're
invincible, but we always think we're going to win,'' Jeff Hornacek

Jordan, though, is trying to hold it all together. He's been in tenuous
spots before and thrives on them.

``It's a great motivational situation right now,'' Jordan said. ``I
still believe that we have strong confidence. I don't think our
confidence is shaken because we've gone to a 2-2 series. I think we
still believe we're going to win this series, without a doubt.''

Jordan may privately wonder why he can't get more help from his
teammates, but he knows better than to publicly criticize them on the
eve of such an important contest.

``I think it's a point where you have to encourage them, that we need
their help, we need their support, we need their productivity,'' he
said. ``I'm not trying to break their morale.''

That even applies to Rodman, who seems unable to avoid being a
distraction at such high-profile moments. In the two days between
Sunday's Game 4 and tonight's Game 5, Rodman twice flew to Las Vegas for
his own unusual form of rest and relaxation.

``I just talked to my friends, relaxed and got away from Utah,'' he

Rodman refused to apologize for earlier profane remarks about Mormons,
and even added a new one Tuesday. But he said he was staying in Salt
Lake City to concentrate on tonight's game.

He has yet to score a point in Utah and is averaging seven rebounds in
the finals, nine below his league-leading average in the regular season.
He blames coach Phil Jackson for not playing him enough.

``Everytime I try to get a little streak going, I'm out of the game,''
Rodman said.

By contrast, the Jazz are so united that even Karl Malone admits it
seems kind of corny. The togetherness stems from coach Jerry Sloan, John
Stockton said.

``He's not a guy who has ever wanted to blow his own horn, but he's been
great here,'' Stockton said. ``He insists on guys doing things together
and doing things the right way. I couldn't imagine being coached by
anyone else.''

Jordan has shot just 41 percent from the field (20-for-49) in the last
two games. After scoring 31 and 38 in the first two games, he had 26 and
22 in the last two.

His struggles coincide with a defensive switch that has Bryon Russell,
and not Hornacek, guarding Jordan. Jordan said Russell has done nothing
to take away his favorite moves, it's just that Michael is misfiring.

``He's certainly active and young and is a lot bigger than most of the
guys I've faced in the past,'' Jordan said. ``But I have faced,
obviously, better defensive players in the past.''

Russell could have some help tonight. Shandon Anderson has rejoined the
Jazz after missing the last two games because of the death of his
father. Anderson wants to dedicate a championship to his dad.

``From the middle of the season, he always would say, `You'll be there.
You'll be in the championship game,''' Anderson said. ``For him to say
that and not be here to share this moment with me is the toughest

Both teams predict things could get rough tonight, with Pippen warning
that he would undercut Utah's Greg Ostertag again and the big Utah
center saying Pippen should be prepared for a fight if he does.

That's the way it is when one team feels its crown slipping and another
sees it within reach.

``This is the ultimate prize,'' Malone said. ``You work all your career
for it. If you ever thought about playing basketball and getting to this level, this is the ultimate.''

Graf to miss Wimbledon, U.S. Open

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STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) -- For the first time in 11 years, Steffi Graf will
not win a Grand Slam tournament title in 1997.

Having dropped to her lowest ranking since 1986 - No. 3 in the world -
Graf is expected to miss the next 4-6 months after undergoing surgery on
her left knee.

She will miss the year's final two Grand Slam tournaments, Wimbledon and
the U.S. Open. She is the defending champion in both.

The German right-hander had the surgery performed at a private clinic,
according to Austrian TV reports. The surgeon was Dr. Reinhard
Weinstabl, a friend of Austrian tennis player Barbara Paulus.

Graf, who has won 21 Grand Slam titles, said in a statement that an MRI
last Friday revealed the injury.

``During the two-hour surgery, repair of the cartilage as well as the
patellar tendon was performed,'' Graf said. ``I have been assured that
the surgery went very well and I feel fine right now.''

The 27-year-old Graf said the injury first occurred at Wimbledon last

``I was treated for it and had no problems until the Leipzig event in
October, where I was forced to withdraw prior to the semifinals, the
first time I ever had to withdraw after starting a tournament,'' she
said. ``Following another default in Tokyo in February, I was advised to
have minor arthroscopic surgery in an attempt to be able to play in
Paris and Wimbledon. In retrospect, this procedure only provided
temporary relief.''

The surgery comes a week after she was eliminated in the quarterfinals
of the French Open.

Graf said she isn't sure when she will return.

``The doctors told me that with extensive physiotherapy, returning in
four to six months is realistic,'' she said. ``It seems unlikely that I
will be able to defend my U.S. Open title as well.''

Graf holds the record for being ranked No. 1 364 weeks and her 103
career titles rank only behind Martina Navratilova, 167, and Chris
Evert, 157.

She is the only player to win each of the four Grand Slam tournament
titles at least four times Australian, four; French, five; Wimbledon,
seven; and U.S. Open, five.

In 1988, she won what commentator-columnist Bud Collins called a
``Golden Slam'' all four Grand Slam tournaments and the Olympic gold

Pecos Enterprise
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
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Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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