Tom Watson made a successful debut on the Senior PGA Tour yesterday in Indianapolis, joining four others atop the Comfort Classic leader board at 6-under-par 66.
Six days after turning 50, Watson overcame crosswinds at Brickyard Crossing to grab a share of the first-round lead with Bobby Stroble, Bob Eastwood, Jim Dent and Gary McCord.
Jim Barker, Terry Dill, Tom Jenkins, Gil Morgan, Dave Stockton and Fred Gibson shot 67s. The admittedly nervous Watson was even par after five holes before going on a birdie binge to turn at 4 under. He added two birdies on the back side, including a 10-footer on No. 18.
"I started off thinking I was not going to have a good round," he said.
Watson cheered himself and the biggest portion of the gallery by turning near disaster into a birdie on the par-4 eighth hole. He hooked a 2-iron off the tee and the ball skipped along the rough near a stream, but stayed out of the water. Watson hit a 6-iron from there to 12 feet and made the putt.
"There was not much tension left in my body after that," said Watson, who adjusted his swing after blading an approach shot over the green on No. 3, resulting in a bogey.
"From then on, it was pretty easy." . . .
Se Ri Pak shot a 1-under-par 71 in the second round of the World Championship of Women's Golf in Maple Grove, Minn., and her 138 total kept her two strokes in front of Laura Davies, who shot a 71. . . .
Hal Sutton birdied the last two holes for a 5-under 67 to take a one-stroke lead in the Canadian Open over Paul Azinger. Azinger had a bogey-free 66 at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario, and was at 137. . . .
Colin Montgomerie matched Lee Westwood with nine birdies and took a three-stroke lead in the much-anticipated showdown of Europe's two most dominant players at the halfway mark of the British Masters in Woburn, England.
Montgomerie bogeyed the first hole before finishing with an 8-under-par 64, one shot off the course record, and a 36-hole total of 13-under 131. Westwood shot 6-under 66 to finish at 134.
Long Still Available
Grant Long, the veteran free agent the Washington Wizards want to acquire as their starting power forward, still has not signed with the Vancouver Grizzlies, with whom his agent last week said he had an agreement in principle. The agent, Charles Tucker, confirmed that Long and Wizards Coach Gar Heard talked by telephone yesterday.
"We've put no conclusion into anything because he's still open to talk to people," Tucker said about his client. "The Wizards have not been out of it."
The development took Grizzlies' officials by surprise. Noah Croom, the team's general counsel and assistant general manager, said Long told the Grizzlies he was delaying the signing of the contract to attend the funeral of a friend.
Neither Heard nor Wizards General Manager Wes Unseld responded to telephone messages.
Stars Visit D.C. Schools
Some of the biggest stars in the NFL--as well as Vice President Gore--are scheduled to visit schools in 31 cities Tuesday to encourage children to play football.
Gore is scheduled to join Atlanta Falcons running back Jamal Anderson, New York Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter at a middle school in the District for a flag football demonstration. The vice president will talk about the benefits of after-school programs, his office said.
News on Umpires
The umpires' union will file new charges against Major League Baseball next week with the National Labor Relations Board, union head Richie Phillips said.
The umpires dropped a federal lawsuit and unfair labor practice charge against MLB as part of a settlement Sept. 1. Under the agreement, 22 umpires have been replaced on the field by new hires but will remain on baseball's payroll through this season.
"We said we would withdraw the charges, but it didn't preclude us from going back," said Phillips, the union's general counsel. "We have new charges that I feel are very significant."
D.C.'s Vinson Loses Final
Bantamweight Clarence Vinson of Washington was one of five U.S. boxers who advanced to the finals of the U.S. Olympic Cup in San Diego. But late last night, Vinson lost to Ukraine's Eduard Lutsker, 11-9, in the championship bout.
Going into the third round of his semifinal, Vinson was tied 5-5 with Russia's Shafedin Allakhverdiev, but he outscored the Russian, 7-0.
"I owe a lot of credit to my corner," said Vinson, 21. "It was like teamwork. All I did was carry out the instructions that the coaches gave me."
Lightweight Mahlon Kerwick, light middleweight Darnell Wilson, flyweight Gabriel Elizondo and light flyweight Brian Viloria also advanced to the finals. The tournament featured competitors from Russia, Ukraine, Mexico and the United States.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. passed Mark Martin with seven laps to go and outdueled the Winston Cup star to win the Autolite Platinum 250 Busch Grand National race in Richmond.
The victory was Earnhardt's series-high sixth of the year and extended his lead over Matt Kenseth from 26 points to 103 points with six races remaining. The race featured 12 lead changes among eight drivers. . . .
Mike Skinner turned a fast lap at 125.465 mph around the three-quarter-mile oval for his fourth career pole in the Exide 400 NASCAR Winston Cup race in Richmond and second this season.
Skinner's lap came immediately after Tony Stewart knocked Rusty Wallace from the top spot with a lap at 125.325. Wallace had posted a lap at 125.244 to edge Bobby Labonte aside for the top spot just before Stewart's solid run. . . .
Bryan Herta took the provisional pole for Sunday's Shell 400 race in Monterey, Calif., with a lap of 117.903 mph on the 2.238-mile, nine-turn natural terrain road course.
Motocross Race The 1999 Grand Prix World Motocross Championship is set for Sunday at Budds Creek Motocross Park in southern Maryland. Pro practice begins at 9:30 a.m., followed by pro qualifying at 10:30 and pro nationals at 1:30 p.m. American riders include three-time world champion Greg Albertyn. Adult admission is $25, with children 6-12 admitted for $10. Children 5 and under are free when accompanied by an adult.
CAPTION: Tom Watson shoots 6-under 66 to tie four others after first round of Comfort Classic. "I started off thinking I was not going to have a good round," he said.