Colombian Camilo Villegas fired a five-under 65 on Friday to grab a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the US$7 million US PGA BMW Championship.
Villegas fired eight birdies, but suffered back-to-back bogeys at nine and 10 and took another on the 18th to trim his lead over the field in half.
Sharing second on 66 were Australian Stuart Appleby, Argentina’s Andres Romero and Steve Stricker, Kenny Perry and Tim Herron of the US.
South African Tim Clark, Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson and Dudley Hart, Chez Reavie and Brian Gay of the US were another stroke back.
Villegas, fourth at last month’s PGA Championship, is still seeking his first PGA career title in his 86th tournament.
Villegas opened with a birdie and began a run of four in a row, starting at the fifth hole. He answered his bogeys at the turn with birdies at 11, 14 and 16 before closing with a bogey.
Showers wiped out Thursday’s scheduled opening round, prompting tournament officials to plan for 36 holes yesterday in order to complete the event on time and at full length.
Fiji’s Vijay Singh, the runaway leader in the PGA playoffs, fired a 70.
Singh stands little chance of being overtaken for the season-ending title and a US$10 million bonus no matter how he fares in this penultimate event that will decide the 30 qualifiers for the Tour Championship later this month.
Stricker, named in the US Ryder Cup team on Tuesday as a captain’s pick at age 41, showed the benefits of the work he has done to win a place on the squad that will face holders Europe in two weeks at Louisville, Kentucky.