Honda Classic: Camilo Villegas leads after storming finish to first round in Florida

Last Updated: 01/03/13 10:21am

Rory McIlroy: Slow start for defending champion in Honda Classic

Camilo Villegas: Leads after a superb finish to his first round in Florida

Camilo Villegas: Leads after a superb finish to his first round in Florida

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods both finished six shots off the pace after the first round of the Honda Classic.

The pair could only manage level-par rounds of 70 at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, as Colombia's Camilo Villegas led the way with a 64.

World No 1 and defending champion McIlroy has struggled to find his form so far this year after switching clubs and mixed two birdies with two bogeys, the second coming at the par-five 18th following a poor chip from the edge of the green.

American Woods, who was runner-up last year, battled back from bogeys at the 10th - his opening hole - and 13th with birdies at the third and seventh, while he also salvaged a par on the sixth after playing from a creek.

Villegas, who is without a victory since winning this tournament by five strokes in 2010 and lost his card last year, produced a storming finish to top the leaderboard.

Sponsor's exemption

The 31-year-old, playing on a sponsor's exemption, was only one under after 12 holes but birdied the 13th, 15th and 17th before signing off in style with an eagle three at the 18th when he drilled a three-wood to eight feet.

"It's a tough golf course," said Villegas. "And I like tough golf courses."

Villegas is one clear of a quartet of players which includes South African Branden Grace, who also made a mockery of the "Bear Trap" - the course's three famed holes from 15 to 17 - with four successive birdies to close his round.

Canadian Graham DeLaet and American duo Rickie Fowler and Robert Streb also carded 65s.

England's Lee Westwood made a rock-solid start with four birdies in a flawless 66, but his compatriots Paul Casey and Brian Davis are among the back-markers following eight-over 78s.

McIlroy's fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell is three-under, while Englishman Justin Rose is two-under after finishing with three bogeys in his last four holes.

Can Tiger Woods win a major in 2013?

  • Yes
  • No