Warren Veitch, the Washington Capitals' No. 1 draft choice, signed a contract yesterday and then tried to complete his media obligations quickly enough to play nine holes of golf.

Veitch, who will be teeing off for a full 18 at Congressional today, is a superb golfer, good enough to win the recent Carling Open in Regina, Saskatchewan, by nine strokes with a 54-hole score of 214.

If he were American, Veitch would probably be pursuing a pro golf career. As a Canadian, however, there is no question about which sport comes first.

"Golf would be quite the life, too, but hockey is my No. 1 choice," Veitch said. "I'm dedicated to hockey. The last eight summers, though, about all I've done is play golf and I've had a hard time getting used to shooting pucks after hitting golf balls. I keep wanting to hold the stick like a golf club."

The Capitals, who are counting on Veitch to put his scorching slap shot in the net from day one, loaded a lot of pressure on the 6-foot, 192-pound defenseman when they traded away Robert Picard for Mike Palmateer just minutes after drafting Veitch.

"For myself, there is a little added pressure," Veitch said. "I do know I'll have to fill his shoes. Not right off the bat, maybe, but within a couple of years. But if there's pressure, there's also confidence, knowing they think enough of me to hold off the trade until they picked me."

Veitch's teammate at Regina, Doug Wickenheiser, was the first player drafted and settled on terms with Montreal a month ago. Ubt Veitch said he did not concern himself with Wickenheiser's figures before agreeing to a three-years-plus-option contract here.

"Doug's a good friend, but I don't realy care what he got," Veitch said. "I'm happy with what I got. I came here for myself and if I'm getting paid what I think I'm worth, that's all that counts."