While Vijay Singh earned the $10 million bonus for winning the FedEx Cup, no one did more for their reputation during the PGA Tour playoffs than Camilo Villegas.
After a slow start Sunday, Villegas made birdies on six of his final 11 holes to shoot a 4-under-par 66 and force a playoff with 54-hole leader Sergio Garcia at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. The 26-year-old Colombian then made a three on the par-3 18th hole and watched Garcia's par chip come up short as he captured his second consecutive playoff victory.
After breaking an 0-for-85 winless drought on the PGA Tour with a wire-to-wire victory three weeks ago at the BMW Championship, Villegas' second consecutive win not only earned him the $1.26 million first-place check, but also gave him a $3 million bonus for finishing second behind Singh in the FedEx Cup standings. He finished the tournament at 7-under 273.
"Winning is awesome," Villegas said. "Again, I've worked so hard. I'll take this chance - perfect chance - to just say thanks. Thanks to the team that's behind me.
"I can't do it as an individual. There are a lot of people behind. They've believed in me. They've supported me, and they've in some way motivated me to just put all those hours, to work hard."
Among those who helped Villegas was caddie Gary Matthews. After watching Villegas hit into the water for double bogey on No. 6 and follow with a bogey at No. 7, Matthews gave Villegas a stern pep talk.
"My caddie, Gary Matthews, looked at me straight in the eyes, and he goes, 'You ain't going to give up on me. We can still do it,'" Villegas said. "He was probably the only one believing that at that point."
Villegas responded with back-to-back birdies at Nos. 8 and 9, and then started his back nine with birdies on three of the first four holes. His momentum was slowed by a bogey at 16, but his birdie at 17 and par on the final hole of regulation got him into the playoff with Garcia.
If nothing else, Villegas helped produce a little excitement for an event that essentially had its legs cut out from underneath it by Singh, who only needed to complete all four rounds in the Tour Championship and sign a correct scorecard. On Sunday, it boiled down to a four-man tournament featuring first-round leader Anthony Kim, Phil Mickelson, Garcia and Villegas.
Kim and Mickelson, who both shot final-round 69s, both missed opportunities to join the playoff. Kim missed a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 18, while Mickelson had a 20-footer that didn't fall.
Garcia, who entered the final round with a three-stroke lead, had a chance to win on the final hole of regulation but missed a 20-foot birdie putt. It marked the fourth consecutive time on the PGA Tour that Garcia has held at least a share of the 54-hole lead and not won the tournament.
"Well, that's the way it is," Garcia told reporters after losing the playoff to his good friend, Villegas. "I just didn't play well enough today. I doubted myself too much early on, and it cost me.
"Then, when I started getting it back a little bit, it was just a little too late, and, unfortunately, I just hit a bad shot on the playoff. That's what it is."
It was a "weird" weekend for Singh, who shot a final-round 70. Despite his desires to win the FedEx Cup with style, the veteran from Fiji finished tied for 22nd in the 30-man field at 9-over 289.
Singh had all but assured himself the $10 million bonus for winning the FedEx Cup by winning the first two playoff events: The Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship.
"You make a bogey, you get congratulated. You make a double, you get congratulated," Singh told reporters, drawing laughs from media members. "It didn't really matter what I made, but it took away the focus of playing this tournament.
"I tried really hard. When I left to come over here to play, I said, 'I'm going to keep focus,' but that's as far as I got."
September 29, 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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