Textbook Swinger Is Still at It; 40th Anniversary of a Fast `First'

ONE of the most legendary swings in all of golf belongs to Mickey Wright, who occasionally still dusts it off for public viewing. The last of her 82 tournament victories on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour came in 1973, but last weekend she was back at it, finishing second to Sandra Palmer in the Sprint Senior Challenge. It was played as an undercard to the regular Sprint Championship in Daytona Beach, Fla., the richest event in women's golf ($1.2 million in prize money). Sherri Steinhauer won the $180,000 top prize.

A year ago, Wright made her first competitive appearance since 1985, playing in a seniors tournament in Florida, where she now lives. Many of the current LPGA players turned out to watch Wright, whose swing has often been referred to as ``perfect.''

Ironically, Wright received a ``D'' in a golf class as an undergraduate at Stanford University. ``I was just a smart-aleck young whippersnapper then, and I'd go do things my own way,'' she says. ``I guess I deserved it.''

Wright joined the tour in 1955 and dropped out after 1969 because of health problems and an aversion to flying. The $30,000 she won last weekend was more than she won in all but two entire years on the regular tour. Touching other bases

* Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of perhaps the most significant sports record of this century. Can you name it? (Answer appears below.)

* With the stature of Ivy League football in decline, the Ivies have moved toward keeping up with the more high-powered Joneses of the college gridiron. Instead of a token single day of spring practice, member football programs are now permitted 12 practice sessions. Whether that's a step in the right direction is debatable, but there's no denying that the change has led to altered bedtimes for many Harvard University players. New coach Tim Murphy has instituted 6 a.m. practices.

* Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski must be very pleased with his decision four years ago to stay put and not listen to the siren song of the Boston Celtics, who wanted him to coach a storied team that still had Larry Bird and Kevin McHale on its roster. The Celtics have taken a downward slide since, this season failing to make the playoffs. Krzyzewski, meanwhile, has led Duke to two national championships and nearly a third last month.

* Anticipating the interest women's soccer will generate in its Olympic debut two years hence, the Upper Deck Company is selling a set of trading cards sprinkled with members of the United States women's team. Six members of the US team that won the inaugural women's world soccer championship in 1991 appear in the 325-card series, which is devoted mostly to male World Cup players.

* Just once, I'd like to see a major league pitcher who is removed from the game look as though he agrees with the manager's decision. Appearances are probably too important in the case of this most intensely watched substitution procedure in sports. No pitcher can ever afford to look eager or relieved to be sent to the showers, especially not with TV cameras zooming in. What would the talk shows say the next day?

* Earlier this week, World Cup soccer tickets were sold out for games involving Italy, Ireland, Mexico, and Norway. Still available, however, were tickets to see the host US play.

* The record referred to above is that for the first sub-four-minute mile, set by Britain's Roger Bannister, who turned in a 3.59.4 effort in Oxford, England, that revolutionized the world's perception of humankind's athletic potential.

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