Valero Texas Open 2021: Camilo Villegas Takes 2-Shot Lead After 1st-Round 64

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2021

Camilo Villegas, of Colombia, hits from the 11th tee during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux/Associated Press

Camilo Villegas leads the way through the first round of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio.

Villegas carded an eight-under 64 to establish a two-shot edge on Sung Kang and Cameron TringaleJordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama and Seung-Yul Noh are tied for fourth at five under.


Valero Texas Open Leaderboard

1. Camilo Villegas (-8)

T2. Sung Kang (-6)

T2. Cameron Tringale (-6)

T4. Jordan Spieth (-5)

T4. Seung-Yul Noh (-5)

T4. Hideki Matsuyama (-5)

T7. Scottie Scheffler (-4)

T7. Tom Hoge (-4)

T7. Sebastian Munoz (-4)

T7. Vincent Whaley (-4) 

Full leaderboard available on PGATour.com

Spieth set the tone early on with a five-under 67. Opening on the 10th tee, he was three under through his first five holes and continued to play well over the remainder of his round. A bogey on No. 9 did end Spieth's day on a sour note, though.


Dialed. @JordanSpieth's wedges are locked in @ValeroTXOpen. https://t.co/Mqt2k1B8oW

Because he teed off at 8:09 a.m. CT, the 27-year-old Texan could only watch and hope his score would hold up as more golfers filled up the leaderboard Thursday.

Matsuyama briefly claimed the lead with a birdie on No. 14, leaving himself with time to widen his lead on the rest of the field. The Japanese was unable to capitalize on the opportunity after bogeying No. 16.

Kang, on the other hand, caught fire as his round drew to a close. He birdied three of his final four holes to take sole possession of second place. No matter what happens from here, the 33-year-old is sitting pretty considering he missed the cut in his last three events. Barring a complete collapse Friday, the South Korean will be playing through the weekend.

Villegas immediately suffered a setback with a bogey on No. 10 to start his round. He quickly rebounded with a birdie on No. 11 and added birdies on the 14th, 17th and 18th holes.

A four-hole surge catapulted the 39-year-old Colombian into first place, and he wasn't far off from an eagle on No. 5 that would've put him at eight under. He wound up getting there anyway thanks to a birdie on No. 9 before heading to the clubhouse and turning in his scorecard.


Last seven holes for @CamiloVillegasR: Birdie Birdie Par Birdie Birdie Birdie Birdie He leads by 1 @ValeroTxOpen https://t.co/1rSv6teC9T

Matt Kuchar (two under) is some distance back from Villegas but delivered one of the best two-shot sequences from the round.

Standing to the left of the cart path, he managed to get his approach onto the green on the par-five eighth hole. That still left him with a difficult 43-foot uphill putt for birdie, and he managed to find the bottom of the cup.


"Now it becomes a difficult two-putt." Matt Kuchar had other ideas. 🐦 https://t.co/H5XJ0KYiPY

While Joel Dahmen is even further back at two over, he at least got to savor his tee shot on the par-three third hole. If his shot had landed a few feet to the right, Dahmen would've been celebrating an ace.


170 yards ➡️ 2 feet. @Joel_Dahmen is still feeling it after his win last week. https://t.co/hBJsgCSqf0

Phil Mickelson will generally want to put this day in his rear-view mirror.


Phil Mickelson recorded a 10 on the 18th hole tying his second highest score on TOUR. https://t.co/fxyX7IMDq1

Villegas is in the driver's seat for now, but plenty of challengers loom just below him. One such challenger is likely to garner more attention than most.

Despite his performance steadily declining following his dominant 2015 season, Spieth remains a big name on the PGA Tour. Fans inevitably get a bit excited when he's hovering near the top of the leaderboard.

However, there will likely be a level of cautious optimism about whether Spieth can remain in this position. Per PGATour.com, his 71.13 scoring average in the final round ranks 146th. He started strong in the Waste Management Phoenix Open, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Arnold Palmer Invitational before wilting on Sunday.

Perhaps Spieth can write a different story in his home state.