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ANNIKA SHOULD GIVE PGA TOUR ANOTHER SHOT

Column as I see 'em:

Annika Sorenstam gave off mixed signals after failing to make the cut at the Colonial. She said she was over her head against the men. But she also said she didn't play as well as she could have and "sometimes you've got to do things over and over again to get good at it." Sorenstam was too emotionally worn down to play her best Friday. She owes it to herself to give the PGA Tour another try. The B.C. Open, in Endicott July 17-20, would be perfect. It's the same week as the British Open, so there wouldn't be nearly as much media attention. The B.C. Open was the first tourney to offer her a spot last January when she expressed interest in giving the men's tour a shot.

Hideki Matsui is a better all-around player than anyone thought, but he's been a bust as a power hitter. As of Monday, Matsui was hitting .266 with only three home runs in 207 at-bats. That's fewer homers than his Japanese countryman, Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners. Wasn't Matsui supposed to be a threat to hit 40 home runs? If the Yanks keep losing, critics will start asking how baseball's richest team can justify having a full-time outfielder with the offensive numbers of a slap-hitting shortstop.

Carmelo Anthony was sensational in Syracuse's run to the title, but that doesn't mean he's going to be a great NBA player. If leading a team to the NCAA title makes you a solid pro, whatever became of Toby Bailey, Scotty Thurman, Miles Simon and Jeff Sheppard? I'm not sure Anthony's physical skills translate well to the next level. He'll have trouble getting his shot off, for one thing. Something tells me Darko Milicic, the 7-foot Serb, will go ahead of him in the draft.

In a two-day span last week: Titans quarterback Steve McNair was charged with drunk driving and illegal possession of a handgun; Giants tackle Keith Hamilton was charged with cocaine and marijuana possession; and Packers defensive end Joe Johnson was charged with marijuana possession. Look on the bright side: It's been well over a year since an NFL player was involved in a fatal shooting.

Orchard Park's Dave Hollins announced his retirement from baseball last week, and there's already talk of him returning to the Phillies as a coach. Hollins would be an asset to any team. He was the ultimate gamer, a guy who battled through every conceivable ailment, including diabetes, to stay in the major leagues. He gave every ounce of himself to the game and it's only fitting that baseball give him something back.

How dominant has defense become in the NHL? New Jersey is in the Stanley Cup finals. Patrik Elias was their top scorer during the regular season with 57 points. He scored 28 goals and was the only Devil with more than 23. Maybe this gives hope to Sabres fans, but it's not much of an advertisement for the sport.

It was no surprise to see Larry Brown quit the Sixers. He had been in Philly for six years, an eternity by his standards. Coaching Allen Iverson for six years would try the patience of any man. Brown will be a candidate for the vacant NBA jobs, but he should do himself a favor and take a year off.

The Montreal Expos were on pace to win 103 games as of Monday. It's hard to imagine the World Series in a city that's almost sure to lose its team. Major League Baseball runs the franchise. If the Expos stay in the race, will they try to improve the team, knowing how embarrassing it will be if they actually make the postseason?

Sports Illustrated recently ran a cover story on the 100 most influential minorities in sports. I'd ask each of them one question: What have you done to improve the lot of scholastic sports in our inner cities?

I like Anaheim in the Stanley Cup finals. Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere should win the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP -- whether the Mighty Ducks win it or not.

Yes, it's only May. But there's a star-crossed quality to the Yankees this year. First Derek Jeter goes down, then Bernie Williams. Most troubling of all, the starting pitchers have been ordinary over the past month and the middle relief stinks.

Maybe Juli Inkster should give the men's tour a try. She shot 62 on the final day to win the Corning Classic, and her short game is a lot better than Sorenstam's.

e-mail: jsullivan@buffnews.com

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