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Sports Calendar

Aug. 2

NFL is back

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The 1996 football year kicks off with preseason exhibition games the first weekend of August.

Aug. 3

Brickyard 400

This NASCAR Winston Cup Series event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is sold out a year in advance. But there's always television, where millions view the stock car race that has become one of the hottest tracks on the circuit. Dale Earnhardt, the defending champion, and Jeff Gordon, the 1994 winner, are leading contenders.

Aug. 5

ATP Championship

A little more than a warm-up for the US Open, this hardcourt, 56-draw event in Cincinnati will involve the top 10 players in the world. Defending champion Andre Agassi - just finished with Olympics play - will try to ward off the world No. 1 Pete Sampras. Prize money is $1.95 million; winner takes home $320,000. Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodford, after capturing their fourth straight Wimbledon, will defend their doubles title.

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Aug. 7-10

Pike's Peak or Bust Rodeo

Yeeee-haw. Hitch 'em up. Ride 'em out. Move 'em up. Rawhide! A record 512 cowboys and cowgirls are getting ready to ride in the 56th annual running of this rodeo at Penrose Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. World all-around champion cowboy Joe Beaver of Huntsville, Texas, will compete in calf and team roping. Kristie Peterson of Elbert, Colo., 1994 world champion barrel racer, will defend her title.

Aug. 8-11

PGA Championship

The pros will tee-off at the Jack Nicklaus-designed course at Valhalla Country Club in Louisville, Ky. in mid-August. Golf Digest picks Nick Faldo to win.

Aug. 17

International Race of Champions

Billed as auto racing's "All-Star Game" or "Master's," the race takes 12 of the world's top drivers from different kinds of auto racing and puts them all in exactly the same vehicle - a Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am. This one takes place at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich. There are no pit stops, no qualifying rounds - just the wave of a green flag, and they're off!

Aug. 26-Sept. 8

US Open Tennis

Bigger, better, and more bucks than ever, this year's fourth and last Grand Slam event offers $10.9 million in prize money - up 10 percent over 1995. Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf are defending champions. Look for rekindled rivalry between Sampras and Andre Agassi. Two-time Swedish winner Stefan Edberg will be making his final appearance - he's retiring at the end of this season. And Monica Seles, the homecourt favorite, will want to retake the women's title. For the first time, both the men's and women's finals will be played on Sunday.

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