Camilo Villegas Surprising 1st Round Leader at Honda Classic

By Carl Conrad
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

With all of the big names taking part in this weeks’ Honda Classic, Camilo Villegas is probably not the name that most people thought would be at the top of the leaderboard at the conclusion of the first round. Even though he won this event in 2010, Villegas has seemingly fallen off the face of the golfing world in the last two years.

The popular favorites heading into the start of the tournament were Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood, while Villegas wasn’t even in the conversation. Woods and McIlroy both finished the first round at even par, Rose was two under par and Westwood carded a four under par first round. There is still clearly plenty of golf left to be played, but this is a good sign for Villegas.

The Colombian’s front nine was solid but not spectacular, as he made the turn at one under par, but he really picked up his game on the back. A birdie on number 17 put him at three under on the back nine and four under four the tournament, which would have still been an impressive finish for a golfer that has had his struggles in recent year. An eagle on the finishing hole turned a solid round into his Villegas’ best opening round in over a year.

Villegas has battled his share of turmoil over the last several years, where he went from winning back to back FedEx Cup events and moving to seventh in the world rankings four years ago to losing his tour card last year. Thankfully for Villegas, however, he is a very popular golfer and has been able to get into quite a few tournaments on sponsor exemptions.

At this point in his career, stringing together a few quality starts could be what Villegas needs to get things moving in the right direction. He clearly has the talent, but something fell apart in the last few years. A good showing at this week might be just what the doctor ordered.

Carl Conrad is the Golf Network Manager for Follow him on Twitter or add him to your network on Google.


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