What seemed like a meaningless birdie on the final hole of the NEC Invitational will ensure that Tiger Woods keeps his No. 1 world ranking at least one week longer.

Woods remained atop the rankings for the 263rd consecutive week by finishing ahead of Vijay Singh in Akron, Ohio -- Woods tied for second, Singh tied for 32nd.

That gave Woods 12.64 points in the latest ranking yesterday, while Singh is at 11.82.

Woods was four shots behind in a three-way tie for third at the NEC Invitational when he hit his approach within four feet for birdie on the final hole. That gave him a 69 and moved him into a two-way tie for second with Rory Sabbatini.

That was worth an extra 14.19 points for the world ranking equation. Without that birdie, Singh would have taken over at No. 1 next week, even though neither of them is playing.

Both players are skipping the Buick Championship at Hartford, Conn., so the projected ranking for next week puts Woods at 12.09 points, and Singh at 11.91.

Woods will next play at the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston in two weeks.

* TENNIS: Wild card Mashona Washington combined strong serving with powerful groundstrokes to defeat Meghann Shaughnessy, 6-4, 6-4, in the second upset at the Pilot Pen tennis tournament in New Haven, Conn.

Washington broke Shaughnessy once in each set, taking advantage of a double fault by Shaughnessy in the second set to take control.

Earlier, unseeded Jelena Kostanic outlasted sixth-seeded Magdalena Maleeva, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, to advance to the second round.

Lisa Raymond, who took a last-minute wild card to the event after playing singles and doubles in the Olympics, beat Dinara Safina of Russia, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.

Lindsay Davenport dropped out of the event with a wrist injury.

* HOCKEY: Bill Guerin, Brian Rolston and Jordan Leopold scored goals, and Brian Leetch had two assists as Team USA beat Canada, 3-1, in a World Cup exhibition game in Columbus, Ohio.

The United States, which won the World Cup tournament in 1996, got off to a slow start but dominated the final two periods.

After three exhibition games -- a rematch tomorrow against Canada in Ottawa and back in Columbus against Russia on Friday -- the United States will open play on Aug. 31 against Canada in Montreal.

* COURTS: Former Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson will appeal the dismissal of a discrimination lawsuit he filed against the university. The appeal will be filed before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. . . .

Spencer Stolpen, former president of the NBA's Charlotte Hornets, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for scheming to defraud banks to pay off his mounting debts.

-- From News Services

Lisa Raymond, fresh off playing singles and doubles in the Olympics, advances to the second round of the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Conn.