Villegas takes 1-stroke lead at Wyndham

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 14, 2014 at 6:14 pm •  Published: August 14, 2014
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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Camilo Villegas got away from golf for a little while, and his game came back.

A recharged Villegas shot a 7-under 63 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead after the first round at the Wyndham Championship.

North Carolina natives Webb Simpson and William McGirt shot 64, and Scott Langley, Heath Slocum, Paul Casey, Andrew Loupe and Martin Laird were another stroke back in the final event before the PGA Tour's playoffs.

Villegas hasn't won since 2010 and has only two top-10 finishes in the last three years.

After pulling out of the Canadian Open after one round last month, he spent the past week back in his native Colombia for "a little recharge" — leaving his clubs behind in Florida.

"I just thought it was appropriate to hop on a plane and see mom and dad and recharge a little bit," Villegas said.

It helped him make a late charge up the Sedgefield Country Club leaderboard.

Starting on the back nine, he had three early birdies before getting even hotter late: He followed his birdie on the fourth with an eagle on the par-5 fifth, placing his second shot about 3 feet from the stick.

He claimed sole possession of the lead two holes later with a birdie, sinking a 15-foot putt on the par-3 seventh.

But early leads have been something of a curse at Sedgefield. Since the tournament returned to the course in 2008, the only first-round leader to win was Arjun Atwal in 2010.

And first-round leads haven't exactly been kind to Villegas lately, either. He held two of them last year, but missed the cut at the Honda Classic and finished 71st at the John Deere.

"I've also played great rounds and played some good ones after that," Villegas said. "It's a matter of just coming out here and playing good golf tomorrow. There shouldn't be any relationship between Thursday-Friday and Friday-Saturday or Saturday-Sunday."

Simpson, the 2011 winner, hopes to make an impression on U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson. His three captain's picks are due next month. Simpson finished 15th on the Ryder Cup points list.

"It's on my mind a little bit, but there are so many things I can't control with what the captain does and how other guys play," Simpson said. "I think if I have a good week this week — not just today but this week — it'll show that I really want to make the team. I want to make a good argument for myself to be a pick."

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