Camilo Villegas leads after first round of Honda Classic
BY Associated Press
Friday, March 01, 2013
3/01/13 at 5:29 AM
With one bold swing, Camilo Villegas turned a solid round at the Honda Classic into his lowest start in more than a year.
Villegas drilled a 3-wood from 263 yards over the water to about 8 feet for an eagle on the par-5 18th hole at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., for a 6-under 64 that gave him a one-shot lead and another jolt of confidence as he tries to regain his status on the PGA Tour.
Branden Grace was bullish when it came to the "Bear's Trap" by making birdie on all three holes of the notorious stretch late on the back nine. He made it four in a row with a birdie on the 18th hole and was at 65 with former Oklahoma State star Rickie Fowler, Graham DeLaet of Canada and Edmond North graduate Robert Streb.
Defending champion Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods each opened with 70 and walked away feeling much differently about their day.
Woods played in the cool, cloudy morning and was in danger of a big number late in his round when he decided to take off his socks and shoes, don rain pants and step into a creek to play a shot half-submerged in the water. Instead of taking a drop that could have led to double bogey, he escaped with par and rallied for a 70.
"I wasn't trying to advance it very far, just make sure I got it back in the fairway and give myself some kind of wedge shot in there, which I did," Woods said.
McIlroy was 1 under for his day when his wedge from 105 yards sailed over the 18th green. He chipped to just inside 8 feet and took bogey when he missed the putt. It felt even worse coming on the easiest hole at PGA National, which played about a half-shot below par.
Villegas will take just about anything positive at this stage in his career.
Just four years after his back-to-back wins in FedEx Cup playoff events and climbing to as high as No. 7 in the world, the 31-year-old Colombian went into a slump so bad that over the last 18 months he lost his card last year and didn't earn it back in Q-school.
Munoz leads after 1st round at HSBC Champions: In Singapore, Spain's Azahara Munoz shot a 7-under 65 for a two-stroke lead after the first round of the HSBC Women's Champions, which features 17 of the top 20 LPGA players.
Munoz played in the day's first group and finished with seven birdies. Five players at Sentosa Golf Club shared second at 67: former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis, former Oklahoma State Cowgirl Karin Sjodin, Lizette Salas, Pornanong Phatlum and Sun Young Yoo.
Fichardt leads by a shot in South Africa: In Centurion, South Africa, Darren Fichardt of South Africa birdied the longest par-5 in European Tour history to lead the inaugural Tshwane Open by one stroke after the first round.
He shot a 7-under-par 65.
Sweden's Bjorn Akesson shot 66, with six players at 67.
Original Print Headline: Villegas finds confidence and Honda Classic lead
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland watches his tee shot on the 10th hole during the first round of the Honda Classic on Thursday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. WILFREDO LEE/Associated Press