Friday, April 2, 2021
Camilo Villegas birdied seven of his last 11 holes to take the first-round lead yesterday in the $7.7 million Valero Texas Open in Austin, two strokes ahead of Sung Kang and Cameron Tringale. The former Gator began his round with a bogey on the 10th hole, then birdied 11, 14, 17 and 18 to head to No. 1 at 3 under 33 over the par-72 Austin Country Club course. He then added birdies on four straight holes - 2 through 5, before finishing with another on No. 9 for a round of 33-31-64. There's a trio at 5 under, three strokes behind - Jordan Spieth, Seung-Yul Noh and Hideki Matsuyama.
Despite his former successes on the PGA Tour, Villegas, the Gator from Colombia, is now playing without benefit of an exemption, having lost his playing privileges amid injuries and the loss of his young daughter, which devastated the entire Tour roster several months ago. A victory here would give him an exemption for the remainder of this season, plus two more years.
On a side note, a Villegas victory would be the fifth during the wrap-around season for collegians from the University of Florida and FSU, following Gators Billy Horschel and Brian Gay, and Seminoles Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger. Gay shot 4-over-76 yesterday, same as Seminole Hank Lebioda.
Ted Potter put himself in a precarious position in relation to the early projected cut line, opening with a double bogey on the first hole and winding up with 39-37-76, 4 over par, and three off the cut line. He was 5 over after 17 holes, but closed with a birdie on the par-4 18th, canning a putt of 5 feet, 6 inches.
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