Originally created 07/11/01


Nick Cassini of Athens, Ga., and 17-year-old James Vargas of Miami both repeated their opening-round 1-under-par 70s Tuesday and tied for the stroke play medal at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championships.

Vargas and Cassini led 64 golfers into Wednesday's match-play format at the Pecan Valley Golf Club.

Cassini had four birdies and three bogeys Tuesday at the 7,005-yard course.

"The course really makes you think off the tee," said Cassini, the Southeastern Conference player of the year for Georgia. "It's playing hard and fast and is extremely tight. It's hard to hit the fairways."

Vargas also had four birdies in the second round.

One stroke back was Adam Fuchs of Plainview, N.Y., who shot a 3-under 68, the second-lowest round of the tournament.

J.J. Wall of San Antonio shot the tournament-low, a 67, to follow his opening 82 and qualified by two strokes.

Ben Flam, a member of the Arizona State golf team, shot a 3-over 74 for a two-day total of 3-over 145.

Flam's caddie, Lee Penterman, has difficulty walking because of cerebral palsy. He requested the use of a cart upon arrival at the tournament but was denied by U.S. Golf Association officials.

Defending champion D.J. Trahan of Inman, S.C., qualified with an even-par 71 for 5-over 147.

BASKETBALL: Dikembe Mutombo always wanted to sign a long-term deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, and now he has his wish.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday that Mutombo and the 76ers reached a tentative agreement, one that is to believed to be a five-year deal worth more than $13 million per season, with a 12.5 percent annual raise and a 15 percent trade kicker.

Under NBA rules, teams cannot sign free agents until July 18, but Mutombo and the 76ers agreed to terms Monday, according to a team source who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Neither Mutombo nor his agent, David Falk, could be reached for comment Tuesday.

Magic Johnson is making another comeback - for one game anyway.

Johnson and his Great Danes basketball team will play Saturday in the Summer Pro League at Long Beach State. He'll join his team of unknowns for one game, and then the Great Danes will play five more without him.

"Just one more time throwing some elbows and getting smacked upside the head. You like to get it once a year. You have to remember you're 41," Johnson said in a phone interview Tuesday. "Am I in NBA shape? No. I'm in everyday shape."

PREP FOOTBALL: A high school football coach implicated in a recruiting scandal was suspended for three years without pay by the Memphis school board.

Tim Thompson's job was place in jeopardy after an internal investigation by the University of Kentucky revealed its former recruiter Claude Bassett had sent the coach $1,400 in money orders, presumably to steer players to Kentucky.

The report was submitted to the NCAA in March, which is still investigating.

Acting on a recommendation from school Superintendent Johnnie Watson, the Memphis school board also voted in March to fire Thompson. But since he was a tenured teacher, he was allowed a hearing before the board to defend himself - with or without counsel - against the allegations.

After Monday night's hearing, the board decided that Thompson, who is also accused of playing ineligible athletes, will not be able to return to teaching until 2004. And even then, it will be up to the superintendent if he will return to Melrose High School or coach.


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