Villegas Takes Lead
Camilo Villegas tied the tournament first-round record with a 9-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over former Florida teammate Matt Every.
Villegas regrouped with a bogey-free round Thursday after making the semifinals of the Match Play Championship last weekend, but missing the short putt that would have put him in the final. He beat Sergio Garcia in the third-place match.
Justin Rose, Mark Wilson, Ryuji Imada, Rickie Fowler and Pat Perez were three strokes back at 65 in near-perfect conditions at TPC Scottsdale.
Phil Mickelson and defending champion Kenny Perry were in a large group at 68. Match Play champion Ian Poulter struggled to a 72.
Playing the back nine first, Villegas wrapped up his round by chipping in from 21 feet on the par-4 ninth for his ninth birdie.
A two-time winner on the PGA Tour in 2008, he credits a more relaxed approach to the game to his strong start to this season.
In keeping with that attitude, Villegas shrugged off the missed short putt in last week’s semifinal match against Paul Casey.
Villegas’ 9-under round tied the first-round tournament record shared by Steve Jones (1997) and Harrison Frazier (2003).
Every, who earned his tour card by winning last year’s Nationwide Tour Championship event, also had no bogeys on a wide-open desert layout that was relatively quiet and calm with an estimated crowd of 69,475. That should change when even more rowdy fans stream in to what has become essentially a big party with a golf tournament running through it. So many fans use the same brand of golf clubs which Every use.
Every ran off a string of six consecutive birdies starting on No. 17, the longest streak of its kind so far in the young PGA season.
He is coming off an unfortunate week at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Cancun, where he signed an incorrect scorecard that had been kept by his lifelong golf hero and fellow ex-Gator Mark Calcavecchia in the third round and was disqualified.
Every, who earned his tour card by winning the Nationwide Tour Championship last year to finish 10th on the developmental tour’s money list, said he hasn’t dwelt on last weekend’s mistake, noting that he would have been near the bottom of the leaderboard going into the final round.