Big-time pro tennis is returning to Portland for the first time since the Nike-sponsored exhibitions of the 1980s.
An eight-player 'Superset' event is scheduled for Nov. 22 at the Rose Garden. Rose Quarter officials are keeping a lid on the details, but two sessions of single-set matches will result in a champion reaping $250,000 for winning only three sets.
'These will be top-level players,' says J.E. Isaac, senior vice president of business affairs for Oregon Arena Corp. 'It is the first event of its kind, and we are excited to be picked to host it. We are going to have a great field. It's a pretty big thing for the entire Northwest tennis community.'
• The Jeld-Wen Tradition will have talent in its field Aug. 28-31 at the Reserve. Peter Jacobsen Productions has commitments from 28 of last year's top 31 money winners, including Hale Irwin, Bob Gilder, Tom Kite, Bruce Lietzke, Tom Watson, Fuzzy Zoeller and defending champion Jim Thorpe. Also committed are Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw and 2003 'rookie' sensation Craig Stadler.
No commitments yet from some of the old guard, including Arnold Palmer, Chi Chi Rodriguez and Lee Trevino. PJP is hopeful it can lure Palmer, a regular at the Fred Meyer Challenge over the years.
The Golf Channel is going big on the event with 36 hours of programming, plus an additional 20 hours of peripheral programming. The Tradition will be the first major event the Golf Channel has shown in its entirety. The network will become the exclusive cable service of the Champions Tour beginning next year.
Biggest worry for tournament officials is a moss problem that has left many of the Reserve greens in bad shape.
'The PGA Tour has had agronomists there, trying to figure out what is causing it,' PJP President Ed Ellis says. 'We're having soil samples tested, and we've been assured they will find out what is wrong. It doesn't look very good right now and has caused some problems, but they are working very diligently on it.'
• Internet rumors alleging that several Oregon State football players, including linebacker Richard Seigler and receiver James Newson, will be academically ineligible this fall are false, OSU officials say. Both are taking summer school classes but are expected to pass and be eligible.
Two incoming freshmen have not qualified academically Ñ tailback Clint Polk from Phoenix and linebacker/tight end Zach Hagemeister from Lebanon. Polk will attend a junior college, and his letter of intent with OSU won't be binding, though the Beavers intend to re-recruit him and get him back the following season. Hagemeister will grayshirt, meaning he won't attend school but will try to meet SAT qualifying standards and enroll winter term. A third freshman who was thought to be in trouble academically, defensive end Keith Robertson from Lake Oswego, is expected to gain admittance and be eligible in the fall.
The Beavers will have an additional player when training camp starts Aug. 4 Ñ 6-4, 250-pound defensive end Nick Sonntag of Dixie (Utah) Junior College. Sonntag, a friend of OSU quarterback recruit Danny Southwick, was a late academic qualifier last year and wound up at Dixie, where he was named the top player in the team's league championship game. He will be a sophomore in eligibility and is expected to get rotation minutes behind starters Bill Swancutt and Dan Rothwell.