A GREAT WEEKEND IN HOUSTON

XTREME SPORTS Some tough decisions need to be made in Houston, and I’m not talking about the mayor’s race. You’ll want to be there to hear “Ladies and gentlemen, U.S. Open winner Andy Roddick” when the onetime (and soon-to-be-part-time) Austinite is introduced at the Tennis Masters Cup , which takes place at the Westside Tennis Club November 8-16. This year the season-ending tournament, in which the top eight players in the world compete for $3.7 million in prize money and a chance at the year-end number one ranking, represents a changing of the guard. In addition to 21-year-old Roddick, Wimbledon champ Roger Federer, 22, French Open winner Juan Carlos Ferrero, 23, and French Open semifinalist Guillermo Coria, 21, are among the participants. But the young guns had better keep an eye on Australian Open winner Andre Agassi, who at 33 may be spotting the other guys some years but who also has the game that can make them look, well, like kids.

Ooh, but Tiger will also be in town, at the season-ending Tour Championship . The PGA’s top thirty money-winners tee off on Thursday the sixth at Champions Golf Club’s challenging Cypress Creek Course, finishing up on Sunday. Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, Davis Love III, Vijay Singh, Mike Weir, Ernie Els. Serious golf will be played for serious money; $1,080,000 awaits the winner.

There’s more: Roundball season begins. Last year, Yao Ming was perhaps the only memorable aspect of the Rockets’ season. This year, there’s Yao and Jeff and Patrick. Jeff as in former New York Knicks coach Van Gundy, who takes over for an ailing Rudy Tomjanovich. Patrick as in Ewing, who will assist his former coach with the team. The Rockets host the Orlando Magic on the eighth, but you could ignore your basketball jones until the next week, when Miami and Phoenix come to town.

And, darn it, college football is played in Houston. It’s the Cougars who are making all the noise. Maybe not the real growls of the Andre Ware or David Klingler years, but U of H has got a kid from Stephenville, quarterback Kevin Kolb, a true freshman, who is fun to watch in new head coach Art Briles’s all-over-the-place offense. Defense may be relegated to the latter pages of the playbook right now, but a good game to catch is, alas, on the eighth, versus Southern Miss, a team with the opposite problem—a traditionally stingy defense, a struggling offense. And then there’s the Owls of Rice, where success at baseball hasn’t translated to the gridiron. But I have a soft spot for their relentless option attack, and they just might beat Tulsa—wouldn’t you know it—on the eighth. I guess it’s too late to clone myself. (See Houston : Sports.)

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