Villegas gets first victory at BMW Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 7, 2008, 4:00 pm
BMW ChampionshipST. LOUIS ' For three years, Camilo Villegas managed to make a name for himself without winning.
 
He was the young Colombian with model good looks and chic clothing, limber enough to strike a pretzel-shaped pose on the green to read putts, earning him the nickname Spider-Man. Trouble was, not many of those putts went in.
 
That changed Sunday at the BMW Championship.
 
Clinging to a one-shot lead on the back nine at Bellerive, Villegas saved par with a 12-foot putt, followed that with two birdie putts and finished off a 2-under 68 for a wire-to-wire victory and his first PGA TOUR title.
 
It was a pretty good little stretch there that just tested my nerves and showed myself that I was good enough to stay out there, Villegas said.
 
Villegas pulled away from Jim Furyk, held off Anthony Kim and wound up winning by two shots over Dudley Hart, who birdied his final two holes for a 65. It was Harts best finish in four years and it earned him two trips to Georgia ' the TOUR Championship in two weeks and the Masters next April.
 
With one playoff event remaining, the FedExCup essentially is over.
 
Vijay Singh, who won the first two events, tied for 44th and earned enough points that all he has to do is complete four rounds at the TOUR Championship in two weeks to collect the $10 million payoff.
 
But the surly Singh didnt seem terribly grateful.
 
In a move that took some shine off the tours new prize, Singh refused to speak to NBC Sports and walked briskly past a group of other media after finishing his round.
 
A marketing dream, Villegas gave golf fans a real reason to pay attention to him.
 
The 26-year-old from Medellin turned his fortunes Saturday after four-putting for double bogey that cost him the lead in the middle of the second round. He didnt have another three-putt the rest of the tournament.
 
It rattled me in a good way, because I had been putting so good all week, and all of a sudden I four-putt, Villegas said. But I looked at my caddie and said, Listen, man, lets dont let those two bad strokes get in our way.
 
And he didnt.
 
Villegas finished at finished at 15-under 265 and collected $1.26 million.
 
Its awesome to be here, said Villegas, who wore a solid white outfit accented by a yellow belt and painters cap. Hopefully, its the first of many.
 
Villegas had been building toward a moment like this in the last few months. He was near the lead going into the weekend at the British Open, rallied to finish fourth in the PGA Championship, then started the final round last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship one shot behind until faltering.
 
He had ample opportunity to let this one get away, too.
 
First came back-to-back bogeys on the front nine, losing the lead to Jim Furyk. But the real test came on the back nine, when Villegas found a bunker off the tee at the par-4 12th, laid up short of the green and hit wedge to 12 feet.
 
He sank the par putt to keep the lead, then seized control.
 
Furyk hit his tee shot into a bunker on the par-3 13th and made bogey, while Villegas took yet another aggressive line and holed a 10-foot birdie to build a three-shot lead. Then came a 35-foot birdie putt on the 14th that sent him on his way to victory at Bellerive.
 
Kim rallied late to get within two shots, but he sent his approach into the bleachers on the 18th and made bogey for a 67, leaving him a tie for third with Furyk, who shot 70.
 
Camilo played great, Kim said. He deserved it, made some key putts when it counted, and overall he just handled himself beautifully out there.
 
Villegas appeal began two years ago at Doral when he finished in a tie for second behind Tiger Woods before a Miami crowd loaded with Hispanic fans. Then came his Spider-Man style of reading putts, contorting his body into a horizontal position to keep his eyes as close to the ground.
 
Endorsement deals and photo shoots followed, not to mention a strong following of females in his gallery. All he lacked was a PGA TOUR trophy, which he earned over three days in a weather-plagued event.
 
Villegas went over $3 million in earnings for the year and likely will move into the top 20 in the world ranking.
 
And he still has a mathematical chance for the FedExCup.
 
He moved up to No. 2 in the standings, but even if he wins the TOUR Championship and Singh finishes last, Villegas still would finish 101 points behind. His only hope is to win at East Lake and for Singh to withdraw or get disqualified.
 
The volatile points system introduced his year brought some fresh faces to East Lake for what once was the tours All-Star game for the top 30 players on the money list. Among those who advanced to the final round of the playoffs were Kevin Sutherland, Ken Duke, Tim Clark, Bubba Watson and Hart, who moved up 53 spots to No. 14.
 
Hart saw that he was tied for third as he stood in the 18th green. He turned to his caddie and said if one person passed him, he was out of the top 30.
 
I basically told him, Birdie or bogey. I said, Lets try to give this thing a run, Hart said. It was one of those things where I was going to give it a run and hit the best putt I could. And fortunately, it went in.
 
The final spot went to Chad Campbell, who got no points this week after withdrawing Saturday to fly home to Dallas after learning his wife went into labor. Dix Phillip Campbell was born later that evening.
 
Golf now goes dark next week ' no PGA TOUR events ' before the Ryder Cup matches Sept. 19-21.
 
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''