Sat, Feb 07, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Villegas cards 63 to claim lead at Torrey Pines

AFP , SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

England’s Luke Donald hits a shot on the third hole of the South Course during the first round of the Buick Invitational at the Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, California, on Thursday.

PHOTO: AFP

Camilo Villegas of Colombia carded a nine-under 63 on Thursday to seize the first-round lead in the US$5.3 million Buick Invitational.

Villegas, whose two US victories last year included the Tour Championship, was three shots in front of veteran Davis Love and Australian Aaron Baddeley, who both shot 66.

Villegas’ round included eight birdies, an eagle and just one bogey.

“Well, pretty fun day, obviously,” Villegas said. “Two chip-ins — that helps. One on No. 2 for eagle and then a nice one there on 17 to finish the round.”

Villegas said he didn’t even realize he had holed out the eagle on the second hole.

“I grabbed a 63-degree [wedge], I just puffed it up in the air and since I hit it I knew it was good, but I didn’t see the ball go in,” he said. “My caddie said: ‘It went in.’”

Aussie Stuart Appleby, Jeff Overton and Robert Garrigus were five shots off the lead on four-under 68.

A logjam of nine players, including Australians Mathew Goggin and Jason Day, were on 69.

Three-time champion Phil Mickelson was in a group on two-under 70, tied with 16 other players.

Reigning British Open and PGA champion Padraig Harrington was three-under through the turn, but his inward run included a double-bogey and bogey before a birdie at 18 saw him finish on 71.

The Irishman is playing in his first tournament of the season after having two non-malignant melanomas removed from near his right eye.

■AUSTRALIAN MASTERS

AP, GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA

Australia’s Nikki Campbell, who plays most of her golf in Japan, shot a seven-under 65 yesterday to take a one-stroke lead after two rounds of the ANZ Australian Ladies Masters at Royal Pines.

Campbell had a 10-under total of 134, putting her a shot ahead of fellow Australian Kristie Smith, who had seven straight birdies to start her round and finished with a 62.

“I hit a few bad shots, but made a few good recoveries, including chipping in on the 12th,” Campbell said. “Putting is the key to playing this course well.”

Another Australian, LPGA Tour regular Katherine Hull, was in third place after a 67, two strokes behind.

Smith, the 20-year-old daughter of former Australian touring pro Wayne Smith, one-putted her first seven greens to go seven-under after seven holes. Her 62 improved on her previous best career round of 66 — also at the Royal Pines resort course — in 2005.

Using a new cross-handed putting grip, she equaled the European Ladies Tour’s record of seven successive birdies, two short of American Beth Daniels’ world record of nine set in Texas in 1999.

She also equaled the course record set by Karrie Webb in 2007.

Webb shot 73 and was nine strokes back.

Smith had 12 birdies and two bogeys and took just 22 putts for the round.

■ASIAN TOUR

AFP, BANGKOK

Finland’s Toni Karjalainen yesterday gave his rookie season in Asia a boost when he carded a second round 12-under 64 to take the lead at the Asian Tour International in Bangkok.

Overnight leader Marcus Both of Australia was a shot off the pace after posting a 68 for a total of 131 at the halfway mark, while Japan’s Tetsuji Hiratsuka was in third place after carding a 68.

Japan’s Hirotaro Naito finished with a 66 to take fourth place, while South Korea’s Ted Oh and India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar are among the eight players bunched together in fifth place on 134.

After an early morning delay because of heavy fog, Karjalainen quickly got out of the blocks with two birdies in the opening back-nine at the Suwan Golf and Country Club.

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