It was suggested that a four-putt on the ninth hole of the second round Saturday was the turning point for Camilo Villegas in the BMW Championship.
Villegas had a slightly different take.
"I'm going to say the four-putt wasn't the turning point," Villegas told reporters. "It was the birdie, birdie I came back with."
Villegas was solid on the greens from that point on, finishing the final five holes of his third round Sunday morning to shoot 4-under-par 66. He then closed with a final-round 68 later Sunday to clinch his first PGA Tour victory with a two-stroke win over Dudley Hart at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.
Following his frustrating four-putt, Villegas didn't have anything worse than a two-putt in his final 45 holes.
"It rattled me in a good way because I had been putting so good all week, and all of a sudden I four-putt," Villegas said. "I kept my head up, came back with birdie-birdie, and all of a sudden that four-putt was completely out of my head."
Villegas finished at 15-under 265 to complete the wire-to-wire victory in the third of four FedEx Cup playoff events. K.J. Choi (Sony Open) is the only other player to lead wire to wire this year, and Villegas is the sole first-time winner to lead after every round since Tim Herron in the 1996 Honda Classic.
The victory netted Villegas, a third-year PGA Tour player from Columbia, $1.26 million. He also surpassed the $3 million mark in earnings and is expected to break into the top 20 in the world golf rankings.
"It's going to really sink in and there's going to be a lot of memories of this week and of the past and how hard I've worked and how hard I've battled," Villegas said. "I'm sure it's going to get a little emotional, but right now I'm just happy to be here.
"I'm just excited I finally got my first win. I've been working my butt off just to be here, and it's here."
Jim Furyk (70) and Anthony Kim (67) finished tied for third at 12-under 268. Stephen Ames (66), D.J. Trahan (67) and Choi (67) tied for fifth at 11-under 267.
The victory boosted Villegas into second place in the FedEx Cup standings heading into the final playoff event Sept. 25-28 at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. However, Villegas essentially has no chance to catch Vijay Singh, who has all but wrapped up the $10 million payoff as the playoff winner.
Singh shot even-par 280 and finished tied for 44th at the BMW Championship, giving him an insurmountable lead in the FedEx Cup chase. Singh, who won the first two playoff events (The Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship), only needs to complete all four rounds of the Tour Championship and not be disqualified to win the FedEx Cup.
Singh, who has played tournament golf for six consecutive weeks, said he was focused, tried hard and never gave up. Even with the $10 million prize almost certainly headed toward his bank account, he didn't appear to be in the best of moods, blowing off a post-round interview request from NBC TV.
"After you keep grinding for three days, sooner or later it's going to get to you," Singh later told reporters. "I think at the end it was getting to everybody that wasn't in contention."
The first round of the tournament was rained out Thursday and postponed to Friday. Players then played 36 holes Saturday to get back on schedule for the regular Sunday finish.
"It's been a long week," Villegas said. "It's been a crazy week with the weather and the way we've been in and out, long days. But you know what, man, I'll do everything it takes to win a golf tournament."
September 8, 2008
Davis Love III, who played the final 57 holes of the Children's Miracle Network Classic without a bogey, finished at 25-under 263 in the season-ending event played at the Walt Disney World Golf Resort in Florida. It has been a long road back for Love, who severely sprained his ankle late last year. After tearing ligaments, he needed surgery, and he's spent much of this year rehabilitating the injury.
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