Jack Nicklaus says you're wrong if you think he has eased off -- "I play 30 times more golf now than I ever did," he insists - but you'll pardon him for passing up the Kemper Open at Congressional May 29-June 1.

Not only will the Golden Bear be winding down from staging (and playing) his fifth annual Memorial Tournament May 22-25 at Muirfield Village in Ohio, but the week of the Kemper is graduation time for Jack Nicklaus Jr., 18, from high school in West Palm Beach, Fla. Young Jack, a 6-foot-4, 185-pound on the football varsity and a real match for "old" Jack at golf already, has opted for Atlantic Coast Conference competition: took a golf scholarship at North Carolina . . .

Paul Silas, "gramps" of the Seattle Super-Sonics, has edged into the San Diego NBA coaching picture. After an interview with Irv Levin, Clipper president, in L.A., says Silas, "the door is still open." Silas is only 17 games short of breaking longtime Boston teammate John Havlicek's NBA longevity mark of 1,270 regular-season games and says, "I would really like to try to beat that record. If it came down to a choice of coaching or playing, that would be a very tough decision."

Jacinto Vasquez of Kentucky Derby success should be ready for the Preakness May 17, if Genuine Risk runs; X-rays of the jockey's left hand, hurt in an Aqueduct spill Monday, negative . . . Nor is Tony LaRussa, White Sox manager, letting a mere shoulder dislocation (third of his baseball career) keep him off the field. He showed up at Comisky Park yesterday, left arm in sling from breaking up a brawl the night before between Chisox and Milwaukee Brewers.

Sorest of all, maybe is Bill Madlock, the Pittsburgh third baseman. Figuring him at $250,000 a year, his 15-day suspension for laying fielder's glove to umpire Jerry Crawford's face figures to cost him about $20,000 in salary on top of his $5,000 fine by the National League.By sitting out now, he would miss "only" 11 games but he filed an appeal and it appears he will keep playing at least until that appeal is heard, probably in early June . . . k

Back to left-handed throwers, and -- Bill Veeck does it again! -- the majors have experienced southpaw catching for the first time since Dale Long, normally a first baseman, went behind the plate briefly in 1958 for the Chicago Cubs. Egged on by Veeck, White Sox skipper LaRussa sent out Mike Squires, ordinarily a first baseman, but groomed behind the mask in spring training, to catch the ninth inning of Sunday's 11-1 loss to Milwaukee. The Brewers, with the big lead, had runners aboard but didn't test Squires with any theft tries. Veeck insists there aren't as many disadvantages to left-handers backstopping as tradition holds -- and Squires "is such as good athlete I might even try him at shortstop or third base just to prove a point," Annexed Veeck, a left-hander . . .

The Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, which tried so hard to stave off NCAA appropriation of control over its domain, especially by way of championship tournaments, got a secondary jolt yesterday: The NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) approved a championship program for women in 10 sports. With 79 percent of the eligible (mostly small) colleges voting, the required two-thirds majority was surpassed, 267-119.

Anchors aweigh, and welcome aboard the NFL-on-CBS expert analyst team, Roger Staubach. The network just enlisted the retiring Cowboy . . . Another ex-Midshipman getting an NFL shot: Larry Van Loan, 1973 ace receiver at Naval Academy, signed by the N.Y. Jets as he comes off six years' active duty . . . And goodbye Annapolis, hello Highland Heights, Ky., for Mike Beitzel -- moving from assistant under deposed Bob Hamlton at Navy to head basketball coach at Northern Kentucky U.