Manuel Villegas has a Canadian visa he wants to go unused.
It came too late for him to play the PGA Tour Canada this summer while trying to fill time between the Web.com Tour and NEC Series-Latinoamerica. By the time the visa arrived, he said, he was already entered in the Web.com Tour stop in Pittsburgh and was scheduled to play in the Cox Classic.
He’s making the most of his visit to Omaha. The native of Colombia matched the tournament low of 63, 8 under, with no bogeys and an eagle on the par-4 ninth hole.
At 10 under after 36 holes, he’s two strokes behind leader Brice Garnett going to the weekend at Champions Run.
“I’ve been working on a new thing with my swing,” he said, “and it’s feeling good.”
Villegas, the younger brother of PGA Tour regular Camilo Villegas, first played in Omaha three years ago on a sponsor’s exemption. He played extensively in Latin America early this year, winning once and finishing in the top 10 of a Web.com Tour event in his home country that qualified him to compete this month in Pittsburgh and Omaha.
Then he returned to his Florida home from June to August while waiting for his Canadian visa. The break from competition helped him recharge his game.
As well as he scored Friday, he probably hit the ball better on Thursday when he missed only one green.
“I left a lot of shots out there yesterday,” he said.
On the front nine Friday, he birdied the second through fifth holes. He hit a 6-iron to 25 feet on the par-4 second, and another 6-iron to 6 feet on the par-3 third.
Villegas drove the par-4 green on 4, missing an eagle putt of only 6 feet. He made a 6-footer on the next hole.
The 20-footer he made on 9 for his eagle started the clock rolling for the tournament’s dollar-beer promotion on the hole.
“It was still early,” he said. “There weren’t that many there.”
He collected two more birdies on the back nine, but he parred in from the 15th hole.
“The wind sort of picked up and those holes were playing hard,” he said.
At No. 128 on the money list, his weekend goals are to secure a spot in the top 100, which would get him conditional Web.com Tour status next year, or, with a top-three finish Sunday, the top 75 to move onto the playoffs.
Another way for Villegas to get on the 2014 tour is through the Latin America tour as a top-five money winner, his current spot before play resumes this fall. A top-10 finish there also would get him to the final stage of the new Web.com qualifying tournament.
He’s won once and been third on the Latin America tour.
“You think you’re playing well, but in golf it doesn’t last very long,” he said. “After I won, I think I missed the next two cuts. Crazy game.”