Villegas wins event; Singh wins FedEx Cup

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ST. LOUIS - Camilo Villegas gave golf fans a real reason to pay attention to him - a trophy.

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Camilo Villegas, of Colombia, celebrates after winning the BMW Championship golf tournament Sunday, Sept. 7, 2008, in St. Louis.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Camilo Villegas, of Colombia, celebrates after winning the BMW Championship golf tournament Sunday, Sept. 7, 2008, in St. Louis.

A marketing dream with his model looks and stylish dress, Villegas won for the first time on the PGA Tour with three big putts on the back nine at Bellerive on Sunday for a wire-to-wire victory in the BMW Championship.

Villegas closed with a 2-under 68 for a two-shot victory over Dudley Hart, who birdied the final two holes to earn a trip to the Masters with his highest finish in two years.

With one playoff event remaining, the FedEx Cup essentially is over.

Vijay Singh, who won the first two events, tied for 44th and earned enough points that all he has to do is complete four rounds at the Tour Championship in two weeks to collect the $10 million payoff.

But the surly Singh didn't seem terribly grateful.

In a move that took some shine off the tour's new prize, Singh refused to speak to NBC Sports and walked briskly past a group of other media after finishing his round.

Villegas, a 26-year-old Colombian in his third year on tour, finished at 15-under 265 and collected $1.26 million.

"It's awesome to be here," said Villegas, who wore a solid white outfit accented by a yellow belt and painter's cap. "Hopefully, it's the first of many."

Villegas had been building toward a moment like this in the last few months. He was near the lead going into the weekend at the British Open, rallied to finish fourth in the PGA Championship, then started the final round last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship one shot behind until faltering.

He had ample opportunity to let this one get away, too.

First came back-to-back bogeys on the front nine, losing the lead to Jim Furyk. But the real test came on the back nine, when Villegas was clinging to a one-shot lead and could not reach the green on the par-4 12th after hitting into a bunker. His third shot came up 12 feet short, but he sank the par putt to keep the lead.

One hole later, he seized control.

Furyk hit his tee shot into a bunker on the par-3 13th and made bogey, while Villegas took yet another aggressive line and holed a 10-foot birdie to build a three-shot lead. Then came a 35-foot birdie putt on the 14th that sent him on his way to victory at Bellerive.

Anthony Kim rallied late to get within two shots, but he sent his approach into the bleachers on the 18th and made bogey for a 67, leaving him a tie for third with Furyk, who shot 70.

Villegas' appeal began two years ago at Doral when he finished in a tie for second behind Tiger Woods before a Miami crowd loaded with Hispanic fans. Then came his "Spider-Man" style of reading putts, contorting his body into a horizontal position to keep his eyes as close to the ground.

Endorsement deals and photo shoots followed, not to mention a strong following of females in his gallery. All he lacked was a PGA Tour trophy, which he earned over three days in a weather-plagued event.

Despite a few hiccups - such as a four-putt double bogey in the second round Saturday and three straight misses from inside 8 feet on Sunday - he never buckled.

Villegas went over $3 million in earnings for the year and likely will move into the top 20 in the world ranking.

And yes, he still has a mathematical chance for the FedEx Cup.

He moved up to No. 2 in the standings, but even if he wins the Tour Championship and Singh finishes last, Villegas still would finish 101 points behind. His only hope is to win at East Lake and for Singh to withdraw or get disqualified.

Singh's behavior at the end of his round, however, raised questions how much he cares about a trophy that is part of the tour's so-called "New Era in Golf."

The volatile points system introduced his year brought some fresh faces to East Lake for what once was the tour's All-Star game for the top 30 players on the money list.

Among those who advanced to the final round of the playoffs were Kevin Sutherland, Ken Duke, Tim Clark, Bubba Watson and Hart, who moved up 53 spots to No. 14 with his runner-up finish.

Hart saw that he was tied for third as he stood in the 18th green. He turned to his caddie and said if one person passed him, he was out of the top 30.

"I basically told him, 'Birdie or bogey.' I said, 'Let's try to give this thing a run,'" Hart said. "It was one of those things where I was going to give it a run and hit the best putt I could. And fortunately, it went in."

The final spot went to Chad Campbell, who got no points this week after withdrawing Saturday to fly home to Dallas after learning his wife went into labor. Dix Phillip Campbell was born later that evening, wrapping up a whirlwind week that began with Campbell being picked for the Ryder Cup.

Golf now goes dark next week - no PGA Tour events - before the Ryder Cup matches Sept. 19-21.


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