Villegas drilled a 3-wood into 8 feet on the par-5 18th hole and made the eagle putt for 6-under-par 64.
That gave him a one-shot lead over Rickie Fowler, Branden Grace, Graham DeLaet and Robert Streb after the first round of the Honda Classic.
Villegas lost his card last year and is playing on sponsor exemptions.
Defending champion Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods each shot 70 and walked off PGA National with different emotions. Woods was thrilled it wasn’t worse. McIlroy was disappointed it wasn’t better.
“I wasn’t trying to advance it very far, just make sure I got it back in the fairway and give myself some kind of wedge shot in there, which I did,” Woods said.
McIlroy was 1-under when his wedge from 105 yards sailed over the green on No. 18, he chipped to just inside 8 feet and took bogey when he missed the putt. It felt even worse coming on the easiest hole at PGA National, which played about a half-shot below par.
“I only had 105 yards in for my third shot and ended up taking a 6,” McIlroy said. “Wasn’t the nicest way to finish. I saw enough pretty good golf out there to be positive going into the next few days.”
Augusta native Charles Howell shot 67. Howell is at No. 64 in the world, and he has until the end of March to move into the top 50 and qualify for the Masters Tournament.
EUROPEAN TOUR: In Centurion, South Africa, Darren Fichardt birdied the longest par-5 in European Tour history to lead the inaugural Tshwane Open by one stroke after the first round.
Fichardt shot 7-under-par 65 and was one of three players in the top 24 to need only four shots on the 685-yard fourth hole.
Bjorn Akesson is at 66, with six players at 67. Darren Clarke opened with 69.
WEB.COM TOUR: In Bogota, Colombia, Danny Lee shot 7-under-par 64 and holds a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Colombia Championship.
Sam Saunders and Shane Bertsch are tied for second.
Aiken native Kevin Kisner opened with 69, while North Augusta’s Scott Brown had 70. Augusta’s Scott Parel shot 75.
LPGA TOUR: In Singapore, Azahara Munoz shot 7-under-par 65 for a two-stroke lead after the first round of the HSBC Women’s Champions, which features 17 of the top 20 LPGA players.
Five players share second at 67: Stacy Lewis, Karin Sjodin, Lizette Salas, Pornanong Phatlum and Sun Young Yoo.