The memory of a missed 3-foot putt did nothing to diminish Camilo Villegas’s game yesterday in the Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The 28-year-old Colombian tied the tournament first-round record with a 9-under-par 62 to take a one-shot lead over former Florida teammate Matt Every.
Villegas regrouped with a bogey-free round yesterday 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 his strong start to this season.
“I was getting a little too concerned with my world ranking position and money list and this and that,’’ Villegas said, “and I just got a little tight on the golf course. So I needed to put all those things aside and remember that I’m playing golf for a living, and there’s a million people out there that would love to be in my shoes, and have fun with it.’’
In keeping with that attitude, Villegas shrugged off the missed short putt in last week’s semifinal match against Paul Casey.
“You know what? It’s OK,’’ he said. “I’ve got no problem with it. I wish I would have made it, yes. But you know what? It ain’t going to change me as a person.’’
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.
LPGA - Top-ranked Lorena Ochoa birdied two of the final three holes for a 4-under 68 and a share of the first-round lead on a hot, windy day at the
Cristie Kerr, Angela Stanford, and Hee Young Park also shot 68s. Kerr birdied five of the last six holes, Stanford had a bogey-free round, and Park overcame three bogeys with seven birdies.
“I’m really happy with 4 under,’’ Ochoa said. “I left some out there, but hopefully I’ll get them tomorrow.’’
Ochoa won the 2008 tournament by 11 strokes, finishing at 20-under 268.
Ai Miyazato, the winner Sunday in the season-opening LPGA Thailand, was a stroke back along with Sophie Gustafson, Christina Kim, and Song-Hee Kim.
Nike brand president Charlie Denson said he does not want Woods back on the course until he sorts out his private life, which has been in the public spotlight since a bizarre car crash outside his Florida home last November revealed allegations of marital infidelity.
“Under the circumstances, the more he deals with the issues and the better he deals with them, the better off he’ll be when he does return,’’ Denson said.