Jack Nicklaus will play in the Masters for the 43rd time, convinced by two practice rounds at Augusta National that he feels good enough and hits the ball long enough to compete.

Nicklaus, a six-time Masters champion, played a practice round Sunday with his three oldest sons and played again Thursday with his youngest son and Arnold Palmer.

"While I don't know if my golf game is good enough or not, I feel good enough physically, and I am hitting the ball long enough to play the golf course," Nicklaus said on his Web site. "Now, it's up to me."

Nicklaus, 63, did not say what he shot in either round, but did say the score was irrelevant.

He skipped the Masters last year because of lower back problems. Nicklaus is on a new diet that has left him trim and fit. The only thing left to decide was whether he could handle a course that is 7,290 yards -- 305 yards longer than he last played in the Masters.

During practice rounds last year, he hit eight fairway metals into the par 4s.

Even with a new tee on the fifth hole that added 20 yards, Nicklaus said he managed to reach that green with a 6-iron.

"When you can hit mid-irons into those new par 4s, that's long enough for me to play the golf course," Nicklaus said. "It's certainly not Tiger Woods's length. That's not even quite Sam Saunders's length."

Saunders is the 15-year-old grandson of Palmer who played with them Thursday.

Palmer, who played in his last Masters a year ago, persuaded Nicklaus to play in the Bay Hill Invitational last week. Nicklaus had rounds of 82-76 and missed the cut.

College Basketball

Kareem to Columbia?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is interested in returning to New York as Columbia's coach.

The 55-year-old Abdul-Jabbar, in San Antonio as an analyst for CBS's NCAA tournament coverage, confirmed that he interviewed with Columbia officials this week.

"It would be the perfect progression for me," he said. "But I won't make any comment right now. I'm going to give them the opportunity to make a decision."

The Hall of Famer grew up in New York, starring at Power Memorial Academy before playing at UCLA and in the NBA. Last season, Abdul-Jabbar coached the Oklahoma Storm to the U.S. Basketball League championship. He also was an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers in 1999-2000.


YES or No Games

The YES Network and Cablevision walked away from their agreement, leaving 3 million homes without the New York Yankees on television for the start of a second straight season.

Each side blamed the other, alleging last-minute maneuvers to change the terms of a one-year agreement announced March 12.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had helped negotiate the one-year deal, announced the cancellation yesterday, three days before the Yankees' opener.

The March 12 deal was described at the time as an interim deal that would allow fans to see this year's games while the sides negotiated a longer-term deal. A pricing dispute had kept Yankees games off Cablevision all of last year, the debut season of the YES Network.

College Hockey

BU, UNH Advance

Mark Mullen, Bryan Miller and Frantisek Skladany scored in the opening 3:34 of the third period as Boston University defeated Harvard, 6-4, in the first round of the NCAA Northeast regional.

Boston University (25-13-3), the second seed, will play top-seeded New Hampshire (26-7-6) tonight. The Wildcats defeated St. Cloud State, 5-2.

In the West regional in Minneapolis, second-seeded Ferris State topped third-seeded North Dakota, 5-2.


Masters Record Set

Running in her first indoor track meet in more than 20 years, Joan Benoit Samuelson set the masters division record for the 3,000 meters with a time of 10 minutes 2.5 seconds at the USA Track and Field National Masters Indoor Championship in Boston.

Samuelson, who holds the American record for the marathon at 2:21:21 in the Chicago Marathon in 1985, usually skips indoor meets because of a chronic problem with her Achilles' tendons that she's been battling since the mid-1980s.