VERNON, British Columbia (AP) — With a couple of hundred of thousand dollars on the line, Camilo Villegas felt some nerves at his first Skins Game.
Coming off a top-10 finish at the U.S. Open, Villegas made more than $200,000 on Tuesday to win the two-day World Skins Game.
Villegas made a 4-foot birdie putt on the par-5 14th hole for $127,800, then added another $97,800 in a playoff.
“I actually was (nervous) with that short putt on the par 5, but it was good,” said Villegas, whose tie for ninth at Torrey Pines was his best finish in a major. “It’s good to feel the nerves, a little shaking, and why not? Just test yourself.”
Villegas forced the closest-to-the pin playoff for the final four skins by matching Mike Weir’s 10-foot birdie on the 18th hole.
“I thought maybe he might do me a favor being Canadian,” joked Weir, who was shut out in his first Skins Game in his home country in seven years.
After walking 130 yards back into the fairway, Villegas’ pitching wedge over water settled 20 feet past the pin. Fred Couples and Australia’s Greg Norman were both closer, but their shots finished on the fringe just short of the green and didn’t count. So when Colin Montgomerie’s ball stopped a foot past Villegas’, and Weir came up short of the green, Villegas had the title and over $226,000.
“I was actually nearest to the pin, so I won really,” said a laughing Norman, who instead had settled for second spot after winning $97,800 on the first day.
Couples, nicknamed “King of Skins,” was third after adding $29,340 Monday to career skins earnings over $5 million. Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie was also shut out for a second-straight year at the internationally flavored event.
“I was a little surprised I didn’t get a skin, but I made a few birdies after not making any yesterday,” Weir said. “It’s timing, you have to make them at the right time.”
After combining for just one birdie in the first six holes the first day, the five golfers had eight through the first three holes on Tuesday. They did not, however, produce an outright winner until the fifth hole, a 540-yard par 5 that Villegas and Weir reached in two shots.
Weir left his first putt short and couldn’t make his 12-foot par putt, allowing Villegas to two putt for six skins, including one carried over from the ninth hole Monday.
After grinding it out at Torrey Pines last week, the 26-year-old Colombian enjoyed the loose atmosphere and the company of a five-some with four major championships between them.
“It was a little more relaxing, I can tell you that,” said Villegas, who flew up late Sunday night to Predator Ridge, almost 300 miles northeast of Vancouver. “Just look at those guys: Greg Norman, Mike Weir, Colin, Freddie Couples. I’m just a kid out here, trying to get better and better every day, and it’s just fun to come out here and play good.”
The playful banter between players also picked up from the first day, with Norman taking the microphone to correct his introduction as a former World No. 1 for 331 days.
“It was 331 weeks,” said the two-time British Open winner.
Montgomerie, a close second to Weir as the fan favorite after leading much of the jokes the first day, didn’t miss a beat.
“I was No. 2 for a month,” Montgomerie said as he stepped up to the first tee, “and then Tiger (Woods) was born.”
Montgomerie wasn’t available to the media as he rushed to a flight, but Couples was sticking around to unveil his latest course co-design, The Rise, nearby on Wednesday.
The event, sponsored by Telus, raised $250,000 for B.C. Children’s Hospital. That included $40,000 for 20 total birdies, and $3,000 for Norman’s lone eagle on Monday, which got him the first-day lead and a hug from fiance Chris Evert, the former tennis great who walked the course both days.