Notes GatorNation Choi WDs Big 3 Feud


DeutscheBank Logo 2007NORTON, Mass. -- Camilo Villegas isn't letting the PGA TOUR's playoff race distract him from a chance at his first victory.
Nope, he's got his eye on another sport entirely.
The 25-year-old Colombian is eager for the college football season to start. His sixth-ranked Florida Gators, the defending national champions, play Western Kentucky on Saturday, when Villegas will start the second round of the Deutsche Bank Championship with a two-stroke lead.
'The football team's been doing pretty good. The basketball team's doing great,' he said of the defending national football champions and two-time defending basketball champions. 'It's time for a golfer to step it up.'
Villegas, who played golf at Florida before turning pro in 2004, birdied the last two holes to finish with an 8-under 63 at the TPC Boston, two strokes ahead of Mike Weir and Ryan Moore.
Although he's yet to win a tournament on the PGA TOUR, he's finished in the top three seven times and has a streak of three consecutive top-25 finishes.
Currently 46th in the playoff standings, Villegas has locked up a spot in the third round of the playoffs in Chicago next week. But he needs at least one strong finish to make it into the top 30 and qualify for the TOUR Championship.
'I don't think it's going to change much the way we play, at least the way I play,' he said. 'I mean, we have the same objective every week: Try to tee it up, try to focus on every shot, try to win a golf tournament. And I can't be thinking about points and stuff.'
K.J. Choi will take his chances in Chicago.
Choi, who finished second in The Barclays last week and is second in the playoff standings by 2,050 points, withdrew from the Deutsche Bank Championship because of lower back pain after shooting 73 in the first round. He expects to be back next week when the playoffs makes the final cuts before the TOUR Championship.
'He will definitely play the next two weeks. He just needs the time off now,' agent Michael Yim told tour officials. 'He wants to put himself in the best condition for Chicago and the TOUR Championship.'
Yim said Choi, who has had only one week off in the last month, pulled a muscle in his back while picking up one of his children in March.
'After he teed off today, on one of the first two holes, he felt the pain again in his lower back,' Yim said. 'The pain wasn't severe, but he didn't want to force it. He didn't want to play when he wasn't physically at his best.'
Choi was treated in a fitness trailer before leaving the TPC Boston, then headed home to Houston.
'His body has told him he needed some rest,' Yim said.
Phil Mickelson hit his tee shot on No. 9 well to the left and into the trees, then declared he was hitting a provisional tee shot for a lost ball.
Vijay Singh didn't appear comfortable with that ruling, believing that provisional shots -- which are used if the original is not found -- can't be used for a ball going into a hazard.
Mickelson eventually called for a ruling to clarify, although it became a moot point. He found his original shot in the trees, punched out to the rough, hit into more trees and made double bogey. But while waiting on the ruling, Singh became fairly animated talking to Tiger Woods about the provisional shot.
Part of the discussion involved Greg Norman, who was disqualified in the 2004 Honda Classic for hitting a provisional tee shot on a ball believed to have gone in a water hazard.
'I think they were just a little confused from past occurrences,' Mickelson said.
Ryan Moore has ditched the abbreviated backswing he was forced to adopt after hand surgery last year, but he may be reaping the benefits from the time he spent in pain.
Moore had an operation to repair a broken bone in his left hand last March, and by the 2006 PGA Championship he was still unable to hit the ball without pain. One day in practice he found it didn't hurt when he started his backswing with his club parallel to the ground.
'I honestly could not start with the club down on the ground,' he said after a 65 to finish two shots out of the lead. 'Something about that just relieved the pressure and the strain and made me able to swing the golf club. For a while last year that really helped.'
The technique was familiar to him because it's one of the drills he uses to keep his swing in line.
'I think it's definitely helped me swing. In the long run it's definitely helped it,' Moore said. 'It makes me have a good shoulder turn, not pick it up with my hands too much, do some really good things for my swing. I had a comfort with it, struck the ball really well when I practiced that way.'
Moore played that way for about three months, picking up three top 10 finishes and a 12th place at last year's Deutsche Bank. After resting during the winter, his hand was all better.
FedExCup points leader Steve Stricker shot 67 in the first round and has broken 70 in seven of his past eight rounds. ... Fred Funk also withdrew after an opening-round 76. He was the only player in the field to hit all 14 fairways in regulation. ... Steve Elkington needed just 20 putts in his round of 66, two shy of the tour record shared by six players. ... Vijay Singh had a 74, the ninth consecutive round in which he has failed to break par.
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