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Rollins fails to catch Villegas

COLOMBIA'S Camilo Villegas benefited from a late bogey by American John Rollins to take a one-shot lead after Friday's second round at the Buick Invitational in San Diego.

On a cold day of wildly fluctuating weather at Torrey Pines, overnight pacesetter Villegas patiently ground out a two-under-par 70 for an 11-under total of 133.

Three ahead after the opening round, the 27-year-old mixed three birdies with a lone bogey on the South Course, the more difficult of the two layouts hosting the PGA Tour event.

A charging Rollins, who also played on the South, drew level with Villegas with one hole to play before finding the right rough off the tee and missing a five-foot putt for par.

Having covered his first 17 holes in nine-under, Rollins had to settle for a 64 and outright second place at 10-under.

San Diego native Charley Hoffman fired a seven-birdie 66 on the North Course to lie four strokes off the pace, one ahead of fellow Americans Paul Goydos (66) and Nick Watney (69).

Villegas, seeking his third PGA Tour title, was happy with his round after a difficult day of intermittent rain and sunshine at the wind-swept coastal venue.

"I think I accomplished my goal," he told reporters after covering his last nine holes in level par.

"I looked at my caddie walking down the 10th fairway and it was just pouring. I told him: 'Listen, let's find a way to keep it around par and maybe somehow get it in the red numbers'.

"So I scrambled pretty good," added the muscular Colombian. "Two-under, I'm happy with it."

Rollins, who holed out from 124 yards with a nine-iron to eagle the par-four fifth, was delighted to surge into contention for a third PGA Tour title. "I just came out and made some putts," the 33-year-old said after totalling just 23 putts on the day.

"I made a couple of long ones that you don't really expect to make and just built on that as the round progressed.

"It just happened that things started going in," added Rollins, who won the most recent of his two PGA Tour titles at the 2006 BC Open.

Three-time winner Phil Mickelson carded a 72 on the North Course to lie nine shots off the pace, three ahead of Irish world No. 3 Padraig Harrington (74).

In Bangkok, Japan's Tesuji Hiratsuka continued his title charge at the Asian Tour International by battling to a four-under-par 67 yesterday to set up what would be an exciting finale to the season-opening event on the Asian Tour.

The 37-year-old Japanese takes a slender one-shot lead over Australia's Unho Park, heading into the final round at the Suwan Golf and Country Club today.

Park returned with a 66 for a 13-under 200 total and is two shots ahead of India's Rahil Gangjee and South African James Kamte, who are tied for third after posting matching 202s at the US$300,000 event.


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