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Friday's golf: Streb shoots 63 to lead Villegas by 2 shot at Sea Island

The Detroit News

St. Simon's Island, Ga. — Robert Streb birdied his last two holes on the Plantation course at Seal Island and matched his career low with a 9-under 63, giving him a two-shot lead over Camilo Villegas on Friday in the RSM Classic.

Villegas had an even better finish to stay in range going into the weekend.

His tee shot on the par-5 18th on the Plantation course hit a cart path on the right side of the fairway and bounced enough that he only had a 9-iron left over the water to a front pin. He was urging it to clear the water, and it landed just on the green and left him about 12 feet away for a closing eagle and a 66.

The final two rounds move to the Seaside course, which Joel Dahmen lit up Friday for a 9-under 61 that took him outside the cut line to just outside the top 10.

Robert Streb thanks the gallery on the 18th Green during the final round in the Barracuda Championship golf tournament at Montreux Golf & Country Club in Reno, Nev., Sunday, July 28, 2019.

The last four winners at the RSM Classic each had the 36-hole lead.

“I don’t want to be the one that breaks it,” Streb said. “There’s still a lot of golf left, and we’ll see what happens.”

Streb was at 14-under 128 at the only tournament he has won on the PGA Tour. It was the fourth time he shot 63, the most memorable in the second round at Baltusrol in the 2016 PGA Championship.

Villegas has the same attitude – go play, count up the scores, see where he stands – though he is not oblivious to the attention on his for all he has been through this year.

The 38-year-old Colombian missed all of 2019 recovering from a shoulder injury, and then his world was torn apart when his 2-year-old daughter, Mia, developed tumors on her brain and spine. She died in late July. Villegas has his brother as a caddie – Manny, who also played professionally – and that helps keep his mind on the golf.

“I’m going to be very honest with you, there’s so much happening on the golf course, you’re so focused, and that’s what I’ve been doing all our life. Having my brother on the bag has helped, too. He keeps me in check and we try to play golf when we’re out there.”

On Thursday, he saw a rainbow on the range and it made him think of his daughter.

“Once you get on that first tee, you try to focus on golf,” he said. “I think I’ve done a good job of it.”

Villegas is a four-time winner – his last victory was six years ago – and knows not to get too caught up at the halfway point. Even so, he is building confidence mainly from his shoulder feeling good and knowing he has put in the work.

“It’s not a two-day thing, it’s a process,” Villegas said.

Bronson Burgoon also had a 63 at Plantation and was three shots behind with Sea Island resident Patton Kizzire, who had a 66 at Plantation. Harris English, another Sea Island resident, shot 66 at Plantation and was four shots behind with Kyle Stanley (65 on Plantation).

Of the top 10 on the leaderboard, past Sea Island winner Kevin Kisner was the only one who played the par-70 Seaside course, where he made a 35-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for a 66.

Sixty-five players made the cut at 3-under 139. Among those missing the cut was Justin Rose, who birdied three straight holes before ending with a bogey from the bunker on the 18th hole at Seaside to miss by one. Sungjae Im, a runner-up last week at the Masters, shot 69 at Seaside and missed the cut by two shots.

Kim leads McDonald in Pelican Women’s Championship

Breakthrough winners in their last starts, Sei Young Kim and Ally McDonald were on top again Friday in the Pelican Women’s Championship.

The second-ranked Kim, making her first start since winning the KPMG Women’s PGA a month and half ago at Aronimink for her first major title, shot a 5-under 65 at Pelican Golf Club to take a one-stroke lead over McDonald into the weekend.

Not that Kim was paying attention to the leaderboard.

“Golf is compete with myself, I think,” Kim said. “If you see the leaderboard then I think I think about the other things. I just want to think about focus on myself and what I have to do.”

McDonald had a 66. She won her first LPGA Tour title late last month in the Drive On Championship-Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia in the tour’s last event.

“My ball-striking was just a little off yesterday, but managed to play really solid,” McDonald said. “I was able to strike it better today. Had a few more realistic looks for birdie. Overall, I just feel like I’m still rolling the ball really well, which gives me a lot of confidence and takes a little pressure off my ball-striking in general. Feel like I don’t have to hit had it really, really close.”

Kim had an 8-under 132 total in the first-year tournament originally set for the same week as the PGA Championship in May. The 11-time LPGA Tour winner birdied four of the first five holes and added another on the par-5 14th.

“It was a tough to make the chance to birdie on the back nine because pin position really tough,” Kim said. “Pins, most pins were right next to undulation, so if you miss the distance, it’ll come back, all the way back. I had three good up-and-downs. Bogey-free round It was really good play today.”

First-round lead Sophia Popov, the Women’s British Open winner at Royal Troon in August, was tied for third at 6 under with Stephanie Meadow. Popov followed an opening 64 with a 70, playing alongside McDonald and top-ranked Jim Young Ko.

“Ally had a good start, too,” Popov said. “When I started making a couple bogeys she was making birdies, and so I knew she was getting close to me. I think that also helped to push me.”

Meadow birdied four of her last five holes, finishing on the front nine, for a 65.

“My back nine was awesome,” Meadow said. “Played really solid. The front nine I hit barely any greens and made a ton of up-and-downs. Just kept my cool on my front nine, the back nine, and was able to make some birdies coming in, which was nice.”

Elizabeth Szokol was 5 under after a 66.

Lydia Ko had a 67 to join Minjee Lee (69) and Lindsey Weaver (68) at 3 under. Brooke Henderson (70), Angela Stanford (68), Jennifer Song (70) and Robynn Ree (69) were 2 under.

Jin Young Ko was tied for 47th at 3 over after rounds of 72 and 71, in her first LPGA Tour start of the year. No. 1 in the world for the last 68 weeks, She has been home in South Korea since the COVID-19 pandemic. She plans to play three straight tournaments through the U.S. Women’s Open.

U.S. Women’s Open champion Jeongeun Lee6, also making her return to the LPGA Tour, was tied for 38th at 2 over, following an opening 73 with a 69. She last played the Women’s Australian Open in February before the tour began shutting down its Asia swing because of the pandemic.