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The Beat

When she tees off in her first LPGA tournament of the season, on March 4 in Mexico City, the world's top women's golfer will be swinging single. Annika Sorenstam, 34, announced that she has filed for divorce from David Esch, 35, her husband of eight years. "We are working toward an amicable resolution," said Sorenstam. "I wish David nothing but the best for the future." The couple (left, in the 1999 SI Swimsuit Issue) met in 1994 at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix, where Esch worked as a tour rep for Ping.

■ Red Sox manager Terry Francona had a spring training phone-in radio interview rudely interrupted by one of those pesky New York fans last week. "Aww, jeez! Guys, I gotta go," said Francona, who was on his cellphone in his car, driving through Fort Myers, Fla., and talking to Boston station WEEI. "Somebody just rear-ended me. [The car] had a Yankee logo, too." Neither the other driver nor Francona, who signed autographs for two hours by the side of the road, was hurt.

■ Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith has 13 Gold Gloves, but his son, Nikko, has the golden voice in the family. Nikko, 22, is one of the 24 semifinalists on Fox's American Idol. Nikko started singing in his St. Louis church at age seven and idolizes Prince--but he carries a lucky coin his dad gave him. "I'm not trying to ride on his coattails," Smith told People. "I want to earn it. I think America is going to like me because I'm a breath of fresh air."

■ As if the name--Yao Restaurant and Bar--isn't enough of a giveaway, Houston's newest watering hole was clearly designed with a certain 7'6" center in mind. The doorways are nine feet high and the menu features Yao Ming's favorite dishes: Peking duck and chicken soup with shiitake mushrooms. The $1.5 million establishment opened on Feb. 21 and is owned by Yao's parents.... One item not on the menu at Yao is Foul Ball Spaghetti, which has been served all week at Harry Caray's in Chicago. The dish incorporates remnants of the Bartman ball--the foul ball that Cubs fan Steve Bartman snatched away from Moises Alou during the 2003 NLCS loss to the Marlins. The restaurant bought the ball at auction for $113,824.16 and blew it up last winter in an effort to un-curse the team. That failed, so Caray's hatched plan B: have fans eat the ball. Since actually serving rawhide and cork would constitute a health-code violation, Caray's cooks did the next best thing. They placed the remains of the ball in a Pyrex vessel with water, Budweiser and vodka, then brought it to a boil. Steam was captured and recondensed, then added to marinara sauce. Managing partner Grant DePorter said that the $11.95 dish--which will be available until Feb. 24, with proceeds going to charity--accounted for 40% of the restaurant's lunch orders on Monday, its first day on the menu. The verdict from diners? Says DePorter, "It's got a little smoky flavor."


English snooker player Jimmy White legally changed his name to James Brown so he could call himself "The Godfather of Snooker."

They Said It


On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, about the retirement of 41-year-old NBA star Karl Malone (far right, with Barkley): "When you can get a discount at Denny's, it's time to retire."








Things got contentious at the 158th running of the Waterloo Cup, a hunting event in Altcar, England, and not just between the hounds and the hares. Soon a British law that bans hunting with dogs goes into effect, despite reminders from sportsmen that rabbits multiply like rabbits. But animal-rights activists showed up for the Cup anyway--and were pelted by spectators with dead hare parts and firecrackers.