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NBC misses mark with Wie

Shhhhhh.

The U.S. Women's Open golf championship is on NBC this weekend.

After weeks of hype rivaling that of Annika Sorenstam's appearance in a PGA event, Michelle Wie takes center stage this weekend at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Portland.

The 13-year-old phenom's entry in the LPGA's top event did not warrant a shot-by-shot docudrama as provided by USA Network when Sorenstam took her stab at history, but quite frankly, it should be more interesting, especially if Wie is in the mix. It will mean more viewers and better ratings for NBC, which will televise the Open from 4-7 Saturday and 3-7 Sunday.

Surprisingly, NBC hasn't been part of the hype machine. NBC did not have a pre-Open conference call _ as it did for Wimbledon coverage and its first NASCAR race Saturday night _ and the news release lacked oomph in the handful of paragraphs provided.

Seems unusual, even if NBC has a perfectly fine excuse _ it's preoccupied with Wimbledon (a Williams sisters final! American Andy Roddick! It's almost perfect!) and NASCAR (a veritable lock to be the ratings winner for the weekend).

But where's the love for Wie and Annika?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: ESPN's Luke Jensen puts the pressure on Roddick: "Andy is so on the right track, as long as he doesn't lose it and blow up on a bad line call, he should win this tournament."

DAYTONA DREAMING: NBC is hoping NASCAR continues to be the only steady ratings machine in sports these days.

Ratings stayed even with last year's for the first half of the season on Fox (while everything else except Triple Crown horse racing took a dive), and those kinds of results will satisfy tag-team partner NBC as well.

AND THE DAMMIE GOES TO: The Best Damn Sports Show Period will hold its second annual "Best Dammies" award show at 8 tonight on Fox Sports Net while you're out watching fireworks.

ESPN's similar but more star-studded and serious ESPY Awards airs at 9 p.m. July 16.

LONG-DISTANCE DEDICATION: ESPN's reality game show Beg, Borrow & Deal returns Tuesday, the first of a seven-week run to be aired at 8 p.m.

Former Olympic champion swimmer Summer Sanders hosts the show, where two teams of four contestants beg, borrow and deal their way across the country, performing tasks like playing a hole of golf with a major tournament winner, beating a WNBA All-Star in a game of one on one, riding a mile with Lance Armstrong or boxing one round with any professional female boxer or Tonya Harding.

No, Nancy Kerrigan did not try to get on one of the teams. But Kerri Kasem, daughter of famous radio host Casey Kasem, made one of the teams.

Beg, Borrow & Deal will be part of ESPN's Tuesday Original Entertainment lineup, as will the 2003 World Series of Poker, which follows at 9.

ESPN will cover the final competition (of Texas Hold 'em) with seven 1-hour shows.

MIX AND MATCH: Interleague play is a hit, apparently. Major League Baseball said ratings for the first three weeks of interleague play on Fox (June 7, 14 and 21) drew a 2.9 Nielsen rating, an increase of 12 percent over last year but 21 percent over the three noninterleague broadcasts this year.

I would agree that interleague play is a good thing if I didn't have to see the Mets-Yankees every weekend on Fox and then ESPN.

AROUND THE DIAL: ESPN's Outside the Lines Nightly, a sports-related version of Nightline with Bob Ley as Ted Koppel, had its most-viewed, best-rated week last week with a 0.7 rating. . . . The Outdoor Life Network is carrying the Tour de France on Bright House Ch. 74 in Tampa and Pasco, and Ch. 80 in Pinellas County.

What Tampa Bay's watching

SATURDAY

Event, Network Nat'l Local

Wimbledon, NBC 2.0 4.2

U.S. Senior Open, NBC 1.4 3.8

NTRA Championships, CBS 1.0 1.1

St. Jude Classic, ABC 1.2 0.7

PGA Tour special, ABC n/a 0.5

Buckeye Trans Am, CBS 0.5 0.5

SUNDAY

Wimbledon, NBC 1.8 2.7

U.S. Senior Open, NBC 1.8 4.0

St. Jude Classic, ABC 1.6 1.8

CART racing, CBS 1.1 1.2

_ Compiled by John C. Cotey. Each national rating point represents about 1.1-million homes, while a local point is about 16,200 homes.

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