LOS CABOS, Mexico — Columbia’s Camilo Villegas shot an 8-under par 64 to grab an early share of the first-round lead with American Michael Kim at the 2023 World Wide Technology golf Championship in Los Cabos, Mexico.
Starting on the back nine in the morning wave, the 41-year-old Villegas carded eight birdies in a bogey-free round at the Tiger Woods-designed El-Cardonal at Diamante.
A birdie on his 17th hole of the day pulled Villegas even with Kim, whose 64 earlier in the day included nine bogies and a lone bogey.
Villegas is a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, but the most recent of those came in 2014. Despite embarking on his announcing career earlier this year, Villegas said he has been working hard on his game with new instructor Jose Campra.
“It’s been a slow year from a performance point of view, but it’s been a very hectic year from a working (one), so there’s been a lot of work there,” he said according to Reuters. “It’s always nice to see a low score.”
Kim, 30, believes the winning score come Sunday will be in the 20s (under par), so he needs to keep his foot on the gas.
“It’s definitely a second-shot golf course,” he said. “You can use a lot of bowls to your advantage if you hit it in the right spots. You know, you need some good iron swings.
With the afternoon still to go on the course, Kim and Villegas had plenty of pursuers.
That included Matt Kuchar and Cameron Young, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 17. They were part of a trio of players who finished the morning wave at 7 under.
A group of eight players another shot off the pace included Luke List, who won earlier this fall at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Sahith Theegala is playing in his final official event of 2023. He opened with a 2-under 70.
Michael Block, the teaching pro who finished 15th at the PGA Championship, opened with an even-par 72. Maverick McNealy shot a 2-over 74 in his return from a shoulder injury that has sidelined him since June.
Elsewhere, World No. 3 Jon Rahm has withdrawn from the first season of Tiger Woods’ and Rory McIlroy’s upcoming innovative TGL golf league, scheduled to kick off in January 2024.
Rahm was among the first of the 24 players announced to be a part of the league last November. Speculations arose after fans noticed that his name was missing from the TGL’s official website.
The TGL golf league is Tiger Woods’ tech-based indoor league that comes in collaboration with PGA Tour pro Rory McIlroy.
With some of the biggest names, like tennis legend Serena Williams and her husband Alexis Ohanian, F1 legend Lewis Hamilton, NBA stars Shaquille O’Neal and Steph Curry, already invested in the venture, Jon Rahm pulling out at the last moment comes as a shock.
But what led the 2023 Masters Champion to opt out of the inaugural season at the last hour?
Amid the speculations of why he was missing from the TGL roster, Rahm announced on his social media that he was sad on not being part of the first season of the TGL. “While I still think it’s a great opportunity, right now it would require a level of commitment that I can’t offer. Best of luck to everyone involved, and may the best team win!”