ATLANTA // The Colombian Camilo Villegas came from five strokes behind to clinch his second successive PGA Tour title by beating Sergio Garcia in a play-off for the season-ending Tour Championship yesterday. The long-haired Villegas, who claimed his maiden victory at the BMW Championship three weeks ago, parred the first extra hole to earn the winner's cheque for US$1.26 million (Dh4.6m). The Spaniard Garcia, who held a three-shot lead going into the final round, bogeyed the par-three 18th after missing the green to the right and hitting his second shot into the rough.
The pair had finished the 72 regulation holes at East Lake Golf Club on seven-under-par 273, Villegas firing an eight-birdie 66 and Garcia closing with a 71. "It's unbelievable," Villegas told reporters after winning the last two of the four lucrative play-off events. "It was crazy out there today, man. What a great week." The muscular Colombian appeared to have wrecked his victory bid when he double-bogeyed the sixth after dumping his tee shot into water and he also bogeyed the seventh.
However, he caught fire from the eighth, rattling up six birdies in the next 10 holes. "I was proud of myself after that," Villegas said. "I'm proud of the way I've battled." Garcia, bidding for his eighth PGA Tour victory and second of the season, rued his poor start. "I just didn't play well enough today," he said after hitting only five out of 14 fairways. "I doubted myself too much early on and it cost me."
The American world number two Phil Mickelson, the 2000 champion, had a chance of joining the play-off but narrowly missed a 20-foot birdie putt at the last. The left-hander tapped in his par putt for a 69 and a share of third place at six under with compatriot Anthony Kim (69). Garcia surrendered his overnight advantage with bogeys at the fourth and seventh. The tournament came alive on the back nine with a barrage of birdies and fluctuations at the top of the leaderboard.
Kim rolled in a 20-footer at the 11th to briefly forge one ahead before being caught by Villegas. After narrowly missing a nine-footer at the 13th, Kim slipped back with a bogey at the 14th. Mickelson rammed in a 16-footer at the 13th and birdied the 15th to join Villegas and Garcia at the top. Garcia had collected his first birdie at the 12th before picking up another shot at the 15th. Villegas and Mickelson bogeyed the 16th but the Colombian recovered when he struck a superb seven-iron approach at the 17th and calmly holed the birdie putt.