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Scorecard April 28, 1997
Edited by Richard O'Brien and Hank Hersch
April 28, 1997
Tiger: New Following, Old Stereotypes...Our NBA Playoffs Picks...Historic Devils Run?...WNBA vs. ABL...A Male Gets in Synch...U.S. Soccer Makes Some Noise
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April 28, 1997

Scorecard April 28, 1997

Tiger: New Following, Old Stereotypes...Our NBA Playoffs Picks...Historic Devils Run?...WNBA vs. ABL...A Male Gets in Synch...U.S. Soccer Makes Some Noise

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A DEVILISH RESURRECTION?

The New Jersey Devils, who as of Sunday led the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 in the opening round of the NHL playoffs, are favored to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup finals. If they get there and win, they'll become only the third team to win the Stanley Cup one year, fail to make the playoffs the next and then regain the Cup the year after that. No NBA or NFL team has ever had a title-to-golf-course-to-title run, and the six baseball teams that so yo-yoed did it before divisional play, when only two teams reached the postseason each year. Here are the NHL's Lazaruses.

TEAM

WON CUP

MISSED OUT

WON CUP

Toronto Maple Leafs

1944-45

1945-46

1946-47

Montreal Canadiens

1968-69

1969-70

1970-71

The Ripple Effect

More impressive than U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz's performance in the 1972 Olympics, when he set seven world records in as many events? More revolutionary than Babe Ruth's 54 homers in 1920, 25 more than the previous major league high? More profound than black track star Jesse Owens's four gold medals in the Berlin Games of 1936, a feat that punctured Hitler's myth of Aryan superiority?

Taking the measure of 21-year-old Tiger Woods's victory at the Masters was a popular pastime last week at watercoolers and lunch counters around the country. On one matter, at least, there could be widespread agreement: Woods's was the most galvanizing sports achievement in his lifetime. "Everybody who walks in talks about Tiger," says Rob Clark, owner of The Golf Club at Wards Creek, in Baton Rouge. "It's scary."

At Pro Golf Discount in Denver, two dozen parents trooped in asking to get clubs cut down for their two-year-old kids. In Oswego, N.Y., a startled father watched as his sons, who until then had played only baseball and football, dug dusty irons out of the closet and hit balls for an hour in the rain on the pasture behind their barn. At Scotty's Golf Park in Dallas, 10 to 15 more black players than usual showed up at the range every day, echoing the same request: "Teach me how to swing like Tiger Woods."

At an auction benefiting the Kentucky Country Day School in Louisville, a golf ball signed by Tiger raised $2,000 (while a basketball autographed by Kentucky coach Rick Pitino fetched $250). Golfsmith International, a mail-order golf company in Austin, took an unprecedented 11,000 phone calls on April 14—the day after Tiger's win. Normally on a good day, Golfsmith fields 8,000 calls.

Greg Johnson, the golf writer for The Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press, related a conversation he heard at a Nashville salad bar in which a white employee explained the concept of par to a black truck driver who had seldom watched golf. While acknowledging that it was a "silly and racist notion" to think the two men might not have talked otherwise, Johnson wrote in his April 17 column, "It did strike me that this rather long conversation was sparked by the actions of an African-American/Thai golfer at perhaps the most private and exclusive of all golf clubs.... This Tiger, he has the ball rolling in a lot more ways than one."

But just as Woods's accomplishment built bridges and broadened horizons, it also conjured up old prejudices. Under the oak tree near Augusta's clubhouse on the final day of the Masters, veteran golfer and 1979 Masters winner Fuzzy Zoeller, speaking to CNN, referred to Woods as "little boy" and advised reporters as Tiger finished his round to "pat him on the back, say, 'Congratulations, enjoy,' and tell him not to serve fried chicken next year" at the annual champions' dinner on the Tuesday preceding the tournament. Then, walking away, Zoeller turned back and shouted, "Or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve." Eight days later, Zoeller issued a statement of apology, adding that he has "nothing but the utmost respect for Tiger."

Tip-offs for the Playoffs

It's easy to forecast another NBA title for the Chicago Bulls—and we do—but here are five somewhat more daring predictions for the postseason, which starts this week.

1) The Orlando Magic will stun the Miami Heat in the first round. Miami's defensive intensity is responsible for its remarkable 61-21 record, but that style of play is also physically and mentally draining, and it will take its toll. The Heat also may not be able to resist thinking ahead to a possible second-round matchup with the New York Knicks, all of which should give the Magic—which, in guard Penny Hardaway, has the kind of player who can dominate a short series—the opening it needs to steal one of the first two games on the road.

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