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Camilo Villegas still leads at Torrey Pines

John Rollins trails by one after a 64 on the South Course.

February 07, 2009|Associated Press

LA JOLLA — Camilo Villegas accomplished his goal Friday in the Buick Invitational, keeping it around par and keeping the lead while playing the tough Torrey Pines South Course in all the elements a golfer dreads, from rain to wind to cold.

John Rollins was one shot behind, and achieved more than anyone imagined.

On a tough day for scoring, Rollins holed out a nine-iron for eagle and made six birdies on his way to an eight-under-par 64 that at least gave Villegas some company heading into the weekend.

Villegas teed off in a steady rain, and when he reached the exposed holes along the Pacific bluffs, more rain arrived equipped with gusts of up to 25 mph. But he scrambled for pars and wound up with a 70 that put him at 11-under 133.

"I looked at my caddie walking down the 10th fairway -- it was just pouring -- and I told him, 'Listen, let's find a way to keep it around par and maybe get it in the red numbers,' " Villegas said. "I scrambled pretty good and two under, I'm happy with it."

Villegas was among the early starters, and his solid round made it look as if this Buick Invitational might turn into a runaway. That changed when Rollins played the front nine (he started on No. 10) in 31.

"When I saw he was at 11 [under], I was just trying to get in position to be in the last couple of groups, just staying in the mix," Rollins said. "It just so happened things started going in."

He caught Villegas at 11 under with a birdie on the par-three eighth and had a chance to match the South Course record since 2002 -- when Rees Jones began to lengthen the course for the U.S. Open -- until a bogey on the par-five ninth.

His round started with a 60-foot birdie on No. 10, so maybe that should have been a clue. And he had only 23 putts, including that nine-iron from 123 yards on the fifth hole when he didn't need the putter at all. He also holed an 18-foot par putt on the seventh.

So how does that compare with his best rounds?

"If it was in the U.S. Open last year, it would been the No. 1 round," he said. "It's high up there, for sure."

Charley Hoffman, who grew up in San Diego and is coming off a playoff loss last week at the FBR Open, shot a 66 on the easier North Course and was at 137. The group at 138 included Paul Goydos, who wasn't planning to play the Buick Invitational.

Goydos learned two weeks ago that his ex-wife had died, and he said he would take a break from the PGA Tour to be with his two daughters, for whom he had full custody. He said he did not want to talk about his family yet, preferring to answer questions only about his golf and his chances on the weekend.

Phil Mickelson, coming off a missed cut at the FBR Open, also is playing the weekend, although not as close to the lead as he would like. The three-time winner at Torrey Pines made three bogeys on the par-fives at the North Course for a 72, leaving him at 142.


Buick Invitational


Torrey Pines North and South

Par 72


Camilo Villegas...63n-70s 133 -11

John Rollins...70n-64s 134 -10

Charley Hoffman...71s-66n 137 -7

Nick Watney...69n-69s 138 -6

Paul Goydos...72s-66n 138 -6

Jason Gore...70s-69n 139 -5

Mathew Goggin...69s-70n 139 -5

Bubba Watson...71s-68n 139 -5

Harrison Frazar...69n-70s 139 -5

Luke Donald...70s-69n 139 -5

Jason Dufner...70s-70n 140 -4

Kent Jones...70n-71s 141 -3

J.J. Henry...70n-71s 141 -3

George McNeill...71s-70n 141 -3

Chris Stroud...73n-68s 141 -3

Scott Sterling...69s-72n 141 -3

n-North course s-South course

(final two rounds on South course)

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