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Villegas uses putter to tame Riviera

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LOS ANGELES – Needing a birdie at his final hole to match the Northern Trust Open tournament record, Camilo Villegas missed the green right at No. 9 and failed to get up and down for par.

Still, Villegas’ 8-under 63 was his best round on the PGA Tour since he shot a 62 in Round 1 at the 2010 Waste Management Phoenix Open. More importantly, it gave the Colombian a three-stroke lead and a chance to play the weekend for the first time in 2016.

“It's a crazy game. I had a nice little break, long break, six weeks off, went back to Colombia, really enjoyed the time, spending time with family and then came back with a good attitude,” said Villegas, who is 0-for-4 in cuts made in 2016.

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Villegas called his Day 1 performance “stress free,” hitting 14 of 18 greens in regulation and needing just 25 putts. The more impressive statistic, however, was the number of long putts he converted on Day 1 at Riviera Country Club.

The four-time Tour winner made birdie putts from 26 feet at No. 5, 15 feet at No. 7, 13 feet at No. 8 and 22 feet at the 15th hole on a day when the scoring average was 71.36.

“I would say I was a little surprised with my 8 under to be honest,” Villegas said. “This is a golf course where it's not easy to shoot 8 under. I was surprised with some of the putts I made, because the greens are not greens where you're expecting to make 20-footers and just kind of bumping in the hole.”