PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Three years after claiming the Honda Classic title, Camilo Villegas eagled the final hole for an opening 6-under 64 and takes a one-shot lead after the first round. Here's the skinny heading into Friday's second round at PGA National:
What it means: With relatively benign conditions and lift, clean and place rules in effect, players were able to go low Thursday on the Champion Course. In total, 60 players were able to better par with their opening round, which means that those who did not – namely Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, who both opened with rounds of even-par 70 – have some catching up to do.
Round of the day: Having made only one cut thus far in 2013, Villegas is looking to jump-start his season with solid play on a course where he has won before. His round appeared solid but unspectacular heading into the Bear Trap – holes 15-17 at the Champion Course – where things heated up. A birdie on the par-3 15th was followed by another at the par-3 17th, and as the Colombian headed to the home hole, he was within a shot of the lead. After an approach into the par 5 from 268 yards landed within 10 feet of the hole, Villegas had a closing eagle and sole possession of the lead.
Best of the rest: Playing PGA National for the first time this week, Grace birdied each of the three holes along the Bear Trap, in addition to a birdie on the closing hole, en route to carding a 5-under 65. A winner four times in 2012 on the European Tour, the South African made seven birdies in total on his opening round and will begin Friday just one shot off the pace.
Biggest disappointment: On a day when scores were unusually low, neither McIlroy nor Woods was able to get anything going. Each made just two birdies in his opening round but saw them wiped away with two bogeys, and now will begin the second round looking up at more than a third of the field. At no point in the round was Woods in red figures, while McIlroy headed to the 18th hole with a chance to move to 2 under, only to leave with a bogey-6 that dropped him back to even par for the round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Are McIlroy and Woods headed for another early exit? A week after both got bounced in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, both the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked players in the world will need to improve Friday in order to comfortably make the 36-hole cut.
Shot of the day: Ernie Els appeared in the midst of closing a somewhat mediocre round, standing at 1 over as he played the 18th hole, his last of the day. His approach to the par 5 went long and left, but when his chip shot from just over 40 feet found the hole, Els had turned a round of 1 over into a 1-under 69 with one stroke of his wedge.
Quote of the day: “Kind of like when I’m shooting my guns long range. I have to take a deep breath and exhale and blow it out, and then pull the trigger.” – Boo Weekley describing his new pre-shot routine when putting. An avid outdoorsman, Weekley opened Thursday with a 4-under 66.