Pittsburgh owner-captain Mario Lemieux won't play for Canada in the Winter Olympics following his latest medical scare, but he has what he considers the perfect replacement in mind: Penguins rookie star Sidney Crosby.
Lemieux, talking publicly yesterday for the first time since being hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat last week, told Team Canada Executive Director Wayne Gretzky several days ago he wouldn't play in the Turin Olympics.
"With the way I have been playing so far and with the young guys we have coming up in Canada, I think the best thing to do is to go with the young guys, the young legs," said Lemieux, who singled out Crosby, Carolina's Eric Staal and Ottawa's Jason Spezza as players who should be chosen.
* GOLF: Darren Clarke decided to concentrate more on golf than having a good time at the Target World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and an 8-under-par 64 put him in position for a real party.
Clarke, who had never broken 70 in his two previous trips to Sherwood Country Club, continued his assault on the par 5s by playing them in 7 under. That allowed him to vault past U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell and take a one-shot lead into the final round.
Campbell had never trailed from his opening-round 63, but fell out of the lead with a three-putt bogey on the par-5 13th hole. He birdied the last two holes for a 68, and was tied with Padraig Harrington (65) at 203. Kenny Perry had a bogey-free 66 and was at 11-under 205.
* TENNIS: Anna Kournikova left open the possibility of a return to professional tennis. The 24-year-old Russian, who hasn't played professionally since 2003 because of back problems, said she doesn't have any plans to return to the WTA Tour any time soon, but added that "the possibility is not completely out of the question."
Kournikova made the comments in Brazil ahead of last night's match against Martina Hingis on a court set up on Rio de Janeiro's famed Copacabana Beach. Hingis, 25, recently announced she is returning to the professional circuit.
On Friday, three-time French Open winner Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil beat Mariano Puerta of Argentina to win an exhibition tournament at Copacabana beach. Nicolas Kiefer of Germany and Robby Ginepri of the United States also took part in the event.
* BOXING: Newly retired heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko said he would run in Ukraine's parliamentary elections in March. . . .
Armenia's Arthur Abraham stopped Nigeria's Kingsley Ikeke in the fifth round to win the vacant IBF middleweight title in Leipzig, Germany.
-- From News Services