Golf got the better of Tiger Woods on his birthday.

The world's best golfer turned 24 yesterday as he played in the Williams World Challenge in Scottsdale, Ariz. Aside from a bear hug from his dad on the No. 1 tee and a rendition of "Happy Birthday, Dear Tiger" from the gallery around the 18th green, it was a round that Woods would just as soon forget.

Struggling most of the day with his swing and occasionally mumbling to himself, Woods shot an even-par 70. Good enough for most mortals, but not up to Woods's standards.

That left him two shots behind Tom Lehman, who shot 65, and one back of David Duval. Duval, paired with Woods, shot 69.

"It was one of those days," said Woods, who planned to spend the remaining hours of daylight on the practice range. "I didn't hit the ball the way I wanted to. I didn't putt the way I wanted to. I really didn't do anything right. What I did do was hang in there."

Lehman is at 7-under 133 heading into Saturday's third round. Duval, who shared the first-round lead with Woods, is at 134 and Woods at 135.

Woods had trouble finding consistency from any club in his bag.

"I didn't drive the ball in the fairway. I didn't shape my shots correctly," he said. "I'd go hit a 2-iron draw and hit a 2-iron fade. If I wanted to hit it low, I was hitting up-shooters."

Woods went 13 holes without a birdie but made a great save for par on the 464-yard par-4 ninth hole. His drive caught the fairway bunker, and Woods walked off the tee talking to himself.

Faced with a tough lie in the bunker, Woods took a mighty swing. He hit it fat and nearly lost his balance, the ball going just 100 yards up the fairway. He put his fourth shot six feet from the cup and made the par-saving putt.

He bogeyed two of the next three holes. He three-putted from 15 feet at No. 10, then missed a five-footer at No. 12 after missing the green with his second shot. He saved his round with back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15.

"Most of the day I was leaving myself some tough putts," Woods said. "I was just getting by. I'm going to hit a lot of balls tomorrow and come out with a game plan for Saturday."

Unlike most pro events, this week's 72-hole tournament at Grayhawk Golf Club is being played over five days. A pro-am will be played today, with the third and final rounds on Saturday and Sunday.

Lehman, who had five birdies and no bogeys in his round, said a good showing here will boost his confidence for the start of the 2000 tour season.

Lehman didn't win on the tour this year and thus isn't eligible to compete in next week's opener, the Mercedes Championships.

"I'd love to be playing next week, but second-place finishes don't get you in," he said. "But I'm ready for the season to start. I feel like I have a lot of things to prove to myself this year."

Duval left several birdie putts inches short in a generally solid round.

"I putted well," he said. "I hit a lot of putts where I wanted but the greens are pretty severe and very slick."

Twelve of the world's top-ranked players are competing in this final offseason event, with the winner earning $1 million from a purse of $3.5 million.

A Two-Year Race

The final race tonight on the harness card at Pompano Park in Pompano Beach, Fla., will start in 1999 and end in 2000.

The Millennium Mile is the 14th race on the New Year's Eve card. Nine pacers will go to post at 11:59 p.m. and cross the wire shortly after midnight.

Although the race will take less than two minutes to complete, it will start and finish in separate years, decades, centuries and millennia.

The horses all become a year older during the race since the birthdays of all standardbreds is Jan. 1.

In case computers at the track fail because of Y2K problems, all patrons will be given flashlights as they enter the track.

Torre Ends Radiation

New York Yankees Manager Joe Torre completed radiation therapy for prostate cancer and pronounced himself fit.

"I feel great, I feel real good," Torre said. "I know it's going to be in my system for a while. I haven't had any side effect I haven't been able to handle. I've been working out. Weight's the same. I head off on vacation tonight."

Torre, who has led the Yankees to three World Series titles in four seasons, had surgery March 18 after tests discovered prostate cancer in an early stage. . . .

Michael R. Frey was reappointed as chairman of the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority by Gov. James S. Gilmore. Authority members Roger Mody and Terry Orr also were reappointed. Members serve four-year terms.

Frey also announced the extension of the Authority's contract with Executive Director Gabe Paul Jr. for three years. Paul joined the group in 1997.

Soccer Player Sold

French club Marseille said it agreed to sell forward Christophe Dugarry to Bordeaux after he asked for a transfer following a clash with fans.

Some Marseille fans turned against Dugarry during a 5-1 loss at Saint-Etienne this month. Fans threw seats onto the pitch, then turned on him when he tried to calm them.

The situation worsened the next day during a meeting the team organized between some players and representatives of supporter groups. The dialogue turned into an argument, and cars belonging to three players, Dugarry's among them, were damaged.

Former Owner Dies

Fred Saigh Jr., whose decision to sell the Cardinals to an Anheuser-Busch heir kept the baseball team in St. Louis, died. He was 94.