Denis Watson, a 51-year-old journeyman from Zimbabwe who can normally be seen on the Champions Tour, shot a 5-under 67 Thursday to take the first-round lead at a Nationwide Tour event.
Watson leads the Henrico County Open by one stroke over four players after carding a bogey-free round that included four birdies on his first nine holes, the back nine.
His performance was highlighted by a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th.
'It was a very good round,' he said. 'I putted great and played solid. You can't shoot 5 under without putting well.'
Watson is a three-time winner on the PGA TOUR, with all three wins coming in 1984 (Buick Open, NEC World Series of Golf and Las Vegas Invitational). This season, he ranks 27th on the Champions Tour money list with three top-10 finishes.
Two weeks ago, he made another Nationwide Tour start at the South Georgia Classic and tied for 64th.
'I'm a little frustrated at not getting in more of the Champions Tour events, but at the same time I'm just so happy to be playing golf again,' Watson said. 'I haven't seen a bad swing since I've been out here.'
Since 1995, Watson has made just 30 combined starts on the PGA TOUR, Nationwide and Champions Tours.
'I'm just happy to be playing golf again after 12 to 14 years,' Watson declared. 'Golf is fun -- especially when you're playing well.'
Jay Woodson, Chris Smith, Jeff Overton and Keith Nolan share second place at 4-under 68.
Chad Collins, the 2005 champion, is tied for sixth place with Jimmy Walker, Bryn Parry, Chris Baryla and Garth Mulroy at 3-under 69. Twenty-four players are knotted another stroke further back.