Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 29, 2000

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / April 29, 2000

The field at the Compaq Classic is shaping up to be an exceptional one.

Masters champion Vijay Singh is one of the latest golfers to commit to compete in the local stop, one of the oldest on the PGA Tour. He is one of sixof the top 12 golfers in the world to be in the field.

The others include No. 4 Hal Sutton, one of the hottest golfers around afterwinning the Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic last week and a product of the Pelican State. No. 6 Davis Love III, a former PGA Champion and one of themost popular players will be in New Orleans as will No. 7 and former U.S. Openchampion Ernie Els and No. 9 Nick Price, another former majors champion.No. 12 Phil Mickelson, who lost to the late Payne Stewart in a playoff at lastyear’s U.S. Open, has also committed.But all those golfers may be overshadowed by arguably the best golfer ever and the designer of the English Turn course – the Great Bear himself, Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus last played here in the early 1990s and any time you canhave him in the field, it’s definitely a treat.

Unfortunately, one golfer who will not be here is Stewart. Stewart mademany appearances in New Orleans and having him here was always a highlight.

This year’s event will be less colorful without. maybe the tournamentorganizers can do something in his memory.

What is a major concern for the Saints going into the 2000 season? Here’s a hint – there are currently 18 defensive backs on the team’s roster. Andthat’s not counting rookie Chad Morton, whom the Saints considered moving to defensive back after drafting him earlier this month. The latest additionsare Kevin Mathis, whom the Saints picked up in a trade with Dallas, and Darren Perry, whom they signed Thursday. If there is strength in numbers,then the Saints are the strongest team in the league in this area. Now, wejust have to wait to see how they perform on the field.

Yo, Detroit, nice NBA season. Grant Hill’s injury means the Pistons will have ashort stay in the second season (a.k.a., the playoffs). With almost a month gone in the baseball season, Montreal, Florida and Minnesota are a combined 37-30 while Texas, Houston and Boston, three playoff teams from last season are 26-31 combined. Oh, and any teamlooking to move into a new stadium any time soon, just check out the home records for the Astros, Tigers and Giants – that is a less than impressive 6- 17. There’s no place like home, right? Boxing is having its own version of a “Glove Affair”. Seems like there is somecontroversy surrounding what gloves challenger Michael Grant has to wear in his bout against champion Lennix Lewis tonight. A heavyweight fight withcontroversy? Who would have thought it?

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