The 2010 winner of this event is back on top of the leader board again. 31 year old Columbian Camilo Villegas shot a 6 under par 64 to climb to the top of the pack, aided by an eagle on the 18th.
Having missed nine out of twenty five cuts last year and two out of three, this year, Villegas teed it up here without a tour card, having finished outside the top 125 on the money list last season. Obviously it’s a golf course he likes, but he says that’s not the only reason for his low score, ‘it’s not only the golf course, I’m sleeping in my own bed, I’ve got mom and dad here, I’ve got good home cooking’.
Meanwhile, defending champion and world number one Rory McIlroy had to be satisfied with a level par 70, which included two birdies and two bogeys. The 23 year old is starting to sound frustrated with his game, ‘it’s hard to commit to the shot that you need to play every time’, he said. ‘If you know you should play a fade and you’re not comfortable with it, it’s hard to do’. But he did agree that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, ‘ I felt like I hit the ball ok, not as good as I can, but it’s getting there’.
Tiger Woods was another that was frustrated on the opening day at Palm Beach Gardens as he matched McIlroys opening 70. He was staying positive though, ‘ I hit good putts’, he said, ‘ I was getting fooled by the grain, some of it was snagging, some I was blowing right through the top side’. The world number two is expecting to improve though and went on to say, ‘ the green speeds are a little bit faster than they were, but it’s just an adjustment I need to make’.
Former US Open Champion, Graeme McDowell shot a satisfying 3 under par 67 and sits just three shots off the early pace set by Villegas. He sits in a tie for 16th and seems to do well on these tight American courses. A round that included four birdies, with his only blemish, a bogey on the 8th sees McDowell right up in contention.
Villegas will go into today’s second round with a one stroke lead over Brandon Grace, the little known pair Graham DeLaet and Robert Streb and young Ricky Fowler. Other notables to watch are Dustin Johnson and Lee Westwood on 4 under and Charles Howell just one further back on 3 under.