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ERNST CHALLENGE: John Cook has been saying all year that he's hitting the ball just as well as he did back in 1992 when he won more than $1 million and finished third on the PGA money list.

But thus far in 1995 Cook had won just $132,138 and was 108th on the money list.

Things changed Tuesday when Cook more than doubled his golf winnings with an 8-under-par 63 to win the second-annual Ernst Challenge at the Overlake Golf and Country Club.

Cook's strong showing offset a course record by local Jeff Gove, who shot a 61 for a two-day total of 135, one off the pace. The old course record was 65.

"This should be a confidence boost," said Cook, 37, of Rancho Mirage, Calif. "I feel I've been swinging the club well and hitting the ball better than '92. It's a goofy game."

Cook's highest finish on the PGA tour had been a fifth at the St. Jude's Classic in Memphis.

WALKER CUP: Tiger Woods and John Harris, the last two U.S. Amateur champions, were among five golfers picked for the 35th Walker Cup team for competition against the British amateur team next month.

The U.S. Golf Association also selected Tim Jackson of Germantown, Tenn., Alan Bratton of College Station, Texas, and Notah Begay II of Albuquerque, N.M. Six more golfers will be picked after the U.S. Amateur championship next week in Rhode Island.


BATTLE OVER OILERS: The effort to keep the Oilers in Houston is becoming as serious as the effort to get them to move.

City and county officials threatened to take owner Bud Adams to court and might retain prominent lawyers John O'Quinn and Gerald Treece to thwart a possible move to Nashville, Tenn.

Houston mayor Bob Lanier and Harris County commissioners want Adams to honor the team's lease in the Astrodome, which runs out in 1997. The county wants the Oilers to pay the $56 million still owed on the $67 million in bonds issued in 1987 to pay for improvements to the Astrodome that were made the last time Adams threatened to move.

Lawsuits against officials from Nashville and Tennessee and the NFL are possibilities as well.

Auto racing

SCHUMACHER TO FERRARI: The Italian racing team Ferrari announced today that it has signed World Formula One champion Michael Schumacher for two years.

The German driver will start driving with the Italian team in 1996, after completing the current World Formula One Championship season with Benetton-Renault.

The Benetton team said that it has signed Frenchman Jean Alesi for the 1996 and 1997 seasons to replace Schumacher. Alesi took his first Grand Prix victory this year.

Meanwhile, Damon Hill and Indianapolis 500 champion Jacques Villeneuve will race for Williams-Renault next season, the team announced today.


MAJOR LEAGUE TRADES: The Seattle Mariners acquired Kansas City Royals outfielder Vince Coleman for a player to be named.

Coleman, 33, hit .287 with four home runs, 20 RBIs and 26 stolen bases in 75 games with Kansas City this season. In an 11-year career with the Royals, Mets and Cardinals, Coleman has a .265 average with 26 home runs, 333 RBIs and 724 stolen bases in 1,261 games.

- The Detroit Tigers acquired infielder-outfielder Phil Nevin to complete the trade last week which sent reliever Mike Henneman to the Astros.

Nevin, 24, has been suffering from a muscle pull in his side. He was the No. 1 selection in the June 1992 draft and won the Golden Spikes Award at Cal-State Fullerton as the top collegiate player. He batted .291 for AAA Tucson.

- The California Angels sent right-handed pitcher Russ Springer to the Philadelphia Phillies to complete last week's trade for outfielder Dave Gallagher.

Springer, 26, began the season on the Angels' 28-man roster. In two stints in the majors, he was 1-2 in 19 games, six starts, with a 6.10 ERA in 51 2-3 innings.


ASHE PROTESTERS: About a dozen protesters carried Confederate battle flags as ground broke for a statue of Arthur Ashe on a boulevard dedicated to icons of the Old South.

Ashe, a Richmond native as a child, was not allowed to use the city's whites-only tennis courts. He went on to become the first black man to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. He died in 1993 of AIDS.


JETS' DESTINATION: Winnipeg Jets are expected to head to the United States after this season, with Minneapolis the likely destination and Nashville, Tenn., also a possibility.

Jets president Barry Shenkarow said a Minnesota group headed by Richard Burke and Steven Gluckstern will have the first shot at the NHL team. Burke and Gluckstern nearly acquired the team last spring before a Manitoba civic group worked out a deal that fell apart Monday.

The Jets' purchase price is about $65 million. In May, Gov. Arne Carlson and others close to Burke said he needed between $15 million and $20 million in state money to close the deal.

SIGNINGS: Radek Dvorak, selected 10th overall by the Florida Panthers in the 1995 draft, agreed to a three-year contract. The 18-year-old Czech forward became the first player to agree to a contract under the NHL's recently finalized rookie salary cap of $850,000.

- Finnish defenseman Aki-Petteri Berg, selected third overall in the 1995 draft by the Los Angeles Kings, agreed to a three-year contract.

Horse racing

CORDERO COMEBACK: Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero, whose spectacular riding career was cut short by injury three years ago, said he will ride again at age 52.

Cordero turned to training horses after a severe spill at Aqueduct Jan. 12, 1992 left him with a broken elbow, three broken ribs and internal injuries that led to the removal of his spleen.

He won 7,076 races in 31 years, and his mounts won more than $164.5 million, second highest in racing history.