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April 17, 1998

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) _ Don Reese of Freeport, Fla., shot a 7-under-par 65 on Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Nike Tour’s Upstate Classic.

``I’ve played all right the last couple of weeks as far as hitting the ball,″ said Reese, who birdied four of his first five holes in a bogey-free round. ``I’ve been struggling with my putting, though.″

Brian Tennyson of Evansville, Ind.; J.L. Lewis of Briarcliff, Texas; Tony Sills of Nashville, Tenn.; and Tom Scherrer of Orlando, Fla., opened with 67s on the Verdae Greens Golf Club course.

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MADISON, Miss. (AP) _ John McGough of Greenville and Jason Bittick of Orlando, Fla., shot 8-under-par 64s on Thursday to share the first-round lead in the NGA-Hooters Tour’s Harrah’s Casino Classic.

Dave Poteet of Dunwoody, Ga.; Croy Cochran of Renton, Wash.; and Tommy Dudley of Jacksonville, Fla., opened with 65s on the Caroline Golf Club course.

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LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Pittsburgh Penguins holdout Petr Nedved won’t be skating for the Las Vegas Thunder in the International Hockey League playoffs.

Arbitrator Norman Brand of San Francisco ruled Thursday that Nedved, who played three late-season games for the Thunder under a temporary court order, was ineligible to play for the team.

Brand ruled in favor of the IHL, which declared Nedved ineligible because of a clause prohibiting teams from signing players from non-North American teams after Feb. 2. The Thunder argued that Nedved was never paid for his involvement with Sparta Praha of the Czech elite league.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A tornado Thursday snapped three of four cranes at the Tennessee Oilers’ new stadium, which is due to open in 1999, and a manager said a two-week delay in construction is expected.

The cranes fell into the middle of the 65,000-seat stadium, being built across from downtown. Operations manager Larry Staverman said the extent of the damage was not known Thursday night.

``It’s going to take us a while to get the cranes out of there,″ Staverman said. ``It’s incredible that nobody was hurt. It’s fantastic. The good Lord was looking after us.″

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REGINA, Saskatchewan (AP) _ Former Miami Dolphins linebacker Aubrey Beavers signed a two-year contract with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders on Thursday. Financial terms were not disclosed.

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Ray Mercer will fight on the undercard of Evander Holyfield’s mandatory WBA heavyweight title defense against Henry Akinwande on June 6 at Madison Square Garden.

Mercer (25-4-1, 17 knockouts) of West Orange, N.J., the WBC’s No. 3 heavyweight contender, will fight Richard Jackson of Houston (22-1, 14 knockouts) in a 10-round match, it was announced Thursday.

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PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) _ Alabama’s Tausha Mills signed a three-year contract Thursday with the American Basketball League.

Mills, a 6-foot-2 center, averaged 12.3 points and 7.1 rebounds last season for Alabama. She will be included in the May 5 ABL draft pool.

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