By The Associated Press
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013, 7:57 p.m.
February 28, 2013
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. â€” With one great shot, Camilo Villegas turned a solid round into his lowest start in more than a year.
Villegas drilled a 3-wood into 8 feet on the par-5 18th hole and made the eagle putt for a 6-under 64.
That gave him a one-shot lead over Rickie Fowler, Branden Grace, Graham DeLaet and Robert Streb after the first round of the Honda Classic.
Villegas lost his card last year and is playing on sponsor exemptions.
Defending champion Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods each had a 70 and walked off PGA National with different emotions. Woods was thrilled it wasn’t worse. McIlroy was disappointed it wasn’t better.
Woods played in the cool, cloudy morning and was in danger of a big number late in his round when he decided to take off his socks and shoes, don rain pants and step into a creek to play a shot half-submerged in the water. Instead of taking a drop that could have led to double bogey, he escaped with par and rallied for a 70.
â€œI wasn’t trying to advance it very far, just make sure I got it back in the fairway and give myself some kind of wedge shot in there, which I did,â€� Woods said.
McIlroy was 1 under for his day when his wedge from 105 yards sailed over the green, he chipped to just inside 8 feet and took bogey when he missed the putt. It felt even worse coming on the easiest hole at PGA National, which played about a half-shot below par.
â€œWasn’t the nicest way to finish,â€� McIlroy said.
In Centurion, South Africa, Darren Fichardt of South Africa birdied the longest par-5 in European Tour history to lead the inaugural Tshwane Open by one stroke after the first round.
Fichardt shot a 7-under-par 65 and was one of three players in the top 24 to need only four shots on the 685-yard fourth hole.
Bjorn Akesson of Sweden was at 66, with six players at 67. Darren Clarke opened with a 69 while Michael Campbell was at 72 and Jose Maria Olazabal at 76.
In Singapore, Spain’s Azahara Munoz shot a 7-under 65 for a two-stroke lead after the first round of the HSBC Women’s Champions, which features 17 of the top 20 LPGA players.
Munoz played in the day’s first group and finished with seven birdies.
Paula Creamer, who won the 2010 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club, was in a four-way tie at 68 despite an injured right shoulder from a car accident. The five-car accident happened on the way to the airport after the Honda LPGA tournament in Thailand.
Two other players, Ai Miyazato and Suzann Pettersen, sustained minor injuries in the crash. Miyazato pulled out of the HSBC Champions on Wednesday, citing stiffness in her back, neck and shoulder.
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