Sports Calendar

January 3-4

Andersen Consulting World Championship of Golf

This event probably comes as close as any to determining the globe's top shotmaker. Begun only last year, the championship bears the sanction of the world's five major tours and boasts a $3.65 million purse. Four players - Greg Norman, Hisayuki Sasaki, Scott Hoch, and Sam Torrance - have survived regional competition to reach the final rounds in Scottsdale, Ariz.

January 5

Women's basketball 'double-header'

Two games with national significance will run back to back, not in the same arena, but on the same network. CBS will televise Georgia versus Penn State from Athens, Ga., followed by Connecticut versus Tennessee from Hartford, Conn. (check local listings). Each team ranks in the Top 15.

January 6

Baseball Hall of Fame selections announced

Joe Torre, manager of the World Series champion New York Yankees, is completing his 15th and final year on the Hall of Fame ballot. He will be a sentimental favorite this time given his good-guy image.

January 11

Houston versus Chicago (pro basketball)

Could this be an early preview of the National Basketball Association finals? It's Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman (Chicago) against Olajuwon, Drexler, and Barkley (Houston) in a veritable all-star bash.

January 13-26

Australian Open (tennis)

This remains the most overlooked Grand Slam tournament, partly because it's played far from the American and European continents and also because it occurs so early in the year. Last year Steffi Graf stayed home, but Monica Seles made the trip to Melbourne and returned with the ninth Slam title of her career. Both are scheduled to play this time. Boris Becker is the defending men's champion, yet hard-hitting Aussie Mark Philippoussis, who upset Pete Sampras a year ago, should be the crowd favorite.

January 18

National Hockey League All-Star Game

Some view this as the quirkiest of all "star" games, since to protect the players serious checking is kept to a minimum. A high-tech "Superpuck" that glowed on TV was introduced at last season's game and will be featured again when the stars take the ice in San Jose, Calif.

January 25

Indy 200

The schism between the Indy Racing League and the CART Indy circuit continues with no reconciliation in sight. The IRL is dedicated to oval-track auto racing. This event, held on a tri-oval at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., introduces new chassis and engine packages designed to make Indy-style racing more affordable for teams and drivers.

January 26

Super Bowl XXXI

The National Football League championship game will be played in the New Orleans Superdome for the fifth time. Denver, the class of the American Conference, would love to advance through the playoffs and erase the memories of four Super Bowl losses, while NFC power Green Bay hopes to prove the "Pack" is all the way back from its Lombardi-era glory years.

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