Villegas opens with a 63, Spieth tumbles to a 79 at Riviera
Feb. 19, 2016
LOS ANGELES (AP) — For Camilo Villegas, who has not made a cut all year, the opening round of the Northern Trust Open was a day to savor.
For Jordan Spieth, the No. 1 player in the world, it was a day to forget.
Villegas ran off four straight birdies on the back nine, and one more would have tied the course record at Riviera. Instead, his chip nearly went in and he missed the 4-foot par putt for an 8-under 63 and a three-shot lead.
Spieth was on the back nine at Riviera, dropping six shots over the last seven holes for a 79. That left him 16 shots behind.
"Did he shoot 8 over?" Villegas said. "Let me tell you, that shows you what the mind can do. Listen, look what Jordan has done the last few years. And is it normal for him to go shoot 8-over par? No. I would say I was a little surprised with my 8 under, to be honest. This is a golf course where it's not easy to shoot 8 under.
"I didn't know Jordan shot 8 (over)," he said. "But again, everybody has bad days in this sport, man."
And they all get to come back and do it again.
Fourteen players had yet to finish the first round before darkness. They will return Friday morning to complete the first round. Villegas returns hopeful of producing anything close to the 63 he shot in the first round. And Spieth?
"It's just a day to forget, and I won't think much on it," Spieth said. "I'm not throwing this tournament away."
CAMILO'S BIG DAY: Villegas was on the putting green Wednesday evening when he overheard a conversation that Lanny Wadkins' record score of 20-under 264 at Riviera in 1985 was the oldest tournament record among courses still on the PGA Tour schedule.
"Man, I can promise you that's not happening this week," he said.
That was before it started raining. And even then, with a 63, he's not sure about that. But the overnight rain did make a difference.
"I was very surprised seeing 6-irons stopping where they were stopping," he said. "This place was so firm on Tuesday. I fly my third shot all the way to the hole on the 11th, and then the same thing with 12. I was aggressive, made a nice birdie there and you've just got to shut the mind and remember you're playing a totally different golf course, which I did."
SPIETH'S BAD DAY: Spieth was never under par at any point, failing to birdie the easy par-5 opening hole and making two bogeys before making an 18-foot birdie on No. 7. He followed that with back-to-back bogeys, and it never got much better.
But his round really fell apart when he missed a par putt from just inside 3 feet on the 12th.
He took two chips to reach the 13th green and made bogey. He three-putted from the fringe on the 15th for bogey. He failed to get up-and-down from a bunker on No. 16 for bogey. And then he finished with a three-putt double bogey.
"I felt like there was a couple rounds last week where I shot 2 under and I was more miserable than I was today," he said. "It's just a day to forget. It's one in, hopefully, every couple years. I've shot 80 before. I've shot in the 80s a couple times on tour. In the course of a career, I imagine it's going to happen. Just unfortunate when it actually does."
SPIETH'S SCORE: Still to be determined is whether Spieth shot a 79 or an 80.
He asked for a rules official in the scoring area to ask them to review his third shot on the ninth hole, a chip in which he said the grass grabbed his club on the way back and Spieth thought he saw the ball oscillate, but not move.
"I don't think it moved, and they're going to be able to check with TV and let me know tomorrow," Spieth said. "I'm sure it didn't. It caught my attention because the club got a little stuck. Typically, it would do as you're setting it down. And it was oscillating as I took it back, as it (the club) got stuck."
A decision was expected Friday morning.
If it did move, Spieth would get a one-shot penalty under Rule 18-2 and have an 80.
RORY'S DEBUT: Rory McIlroy opened with two straight birdies in his debut at Riviera and wound up with a 67, leaving him four shots behind.
He expects it to get tougher with a forecast for sunshine the rest of the way.
"Put myself out of position a couple of times, but with the way the conditions of the golf course were, it didn't punish you as bad as if it would have been as firm as it was the last couple of days," he said.
THE COLLEGE KID: Forget Villegas at 8 under or Spieth at 8 over. The biggest surprise might have been Charlie Danielson, the senior from Illinois who won the collegiate qualifier on Monday. This was his first PGA Tour event, and he made seven birdies in his round of 67.
"I just went out and tried to enjoy the day," Danielson said. "I had no idea if I would shoot 80 or 66, so I just went out with no expectations, and it worked out. ... It hasn't really sunk in yet, I don't think. It was a great day."
Spieth would have gladly taken it.