Watson's 63 puts him in tie with Wrenn, Faxon in Buick

SAN DIEGO -- The scoreboard shows Tom Watson, Robert Wrenn and Brad Faxon in a tie for the first-round lead of the $1 million Buick Invitational of California.

But that's not an accurate picture of the situation, Wrenn and Faxon said yesterday after they had matched 63s on the 6,592-yard North course at Torrey Pines.

They nominated Watson as the leader by two, possibly three shots.

"Wow," Faxon said when he caught sight of Watson's score, also a 63, which Watson said was one of his best in a decade.

The difference is that the five-time British Open champion recorded his 9-under effort on the longer, more difficult South course.

"Easily a 2-3 shot difference" between the two courses, Wrenn said.

Watson, 41, a frustrated non-winner since 1987, one-putted 10 times, birdied four holes in a row and played his back nine in 30 in his romp around the 7,000 yards of the South course.

"My best score in a long time, maybe 10 years," said Watson, who will play the North course today. The 156-man field plays one round on each course before the field is cut for the final two rounds at the South.

Steve Pate had a 64 on the North course and said he was surprised to shoot eight under par "and have three guys in front of me.

Australian Steve Elkington, who won the Tournament of Champions at nearby La Costa last month, said he was "overly pleased" with his 65 at the tougher South course. He was tied with Marco Dawson, who played the North.

The group at 66, all of whom played the shorter North, included Larry Mize, Wayne Levi, John Huston, Jeff Sluman, Tim Simpson, Mike Springer, Bobby Wadkins and Steve La Montagne.

Watson, who counts two victories in this event among his 32 American tour triumphs, started his day's play from the 10th tee and played that side in 33 with four birdies and a bogey.

He made his move on his back nine, flipping a sand wedge to within six inches of the cup on the second hole.

A string of four consecutive birdies began with a 20-footer on the fourth and was capped by what Watson called "a slam-dunk," on the seventh, a 40-footer that hit the back of the cup and brought son Michael, 9, running out to congratulate his dad.

Watson finished with a chip to four feet for a last-hole birdie-4 that put him nine under.

Hawaiian Ladies Open


HONOLULU -- Susie Redman bogeyed the 18th hole to fall into a tie with Kris Tschetter at 4-under 68 after one round of the 54-hole tournament.

Pat Bradley and Dale Eggeling were one shot back at 3-under. Liselotte Neumann, Tammie Green and rookie Anna Marie Palli were two strokes behind.

Defending champ Patty Sheehan shot even-par 72.

Redman started the back nine at 2-under before scoring birdies on Nos. 11, 13 and 14 to move to 5-under. Redman hit a 35-foot putt for birdie on 13, then made what she called a great putt on No. 14, breaking a 15-foot downhill putt from left to right.

She bogeyed No. 16 when she missed a 6-footer for par after hitting out of a bunker, but broke another downhill putt on 17 -- this one a 21-footer going right to left -- to return to 5-under.

On 18, she tried to hit a 7-wood onto the green, but hit short and couldn't get it up and down, missing a 15-foot chip.

"This is a demanding course, the greens make it tough," Redman said. "If you don't hit it in the right spot, you've got a lot of tough, breaking putts."

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