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February 18, 2016

Camilo Villegas

Pacific Palisades, California

MARK WILLIAMS: Camilo Villegas, leading 8-under 63 at the Northern Trust Open, just give us some comments on your round today, and obviously a great day for you.

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, obviously things were going good there. You don't really shoot 8-under around this place not playing good. Obviously the rain yesterday made the golf course a lot more accessible.

Practice rounds were really tough, really firm. I was surprised to see the balls, 5- and 6-irons stopping the way they were stopping on the greens. Also it makes it a little bit more bumpy and harder to make putts on this poa annua. I got off to a good start from the 10th hole, made a nice little birdie there, and then great birdie on No. 12, tough hole. And then I made birdies on, what was that, 15 and 17.

So nice front nine, and then the back nine, I got on fire there for a little stretch and obviously a little mishap on the last hole. But man, I thought I made the chip, too. It was a good day out there, fun.

MARK WILLIAMS: Before we take some questions, you're coming into this tournament off four missed cuts in a row. Is there something that's happened with your game that you've done to have this performance come about?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: It's a crazy game. I had a nice little break, long break, six weeks off, went back to Colombia, really enjoyed the time, spending time with family and then came back with a good attitude. I didn't play that bad at Sony. I was not happy to miss that cut. And then I didn't play good in Palm Springs, but then Torrey, I just drove it bad.

Then Phoenix, I didn't play that bad. I just had a terrible, just kind of back nine. Ended up missing the cut by one. I was not happy about that one either. I punished myself a little red-eye, going that night back home, and then did a little work this week. I've been in Florida. So here we are.

I mean, obviously it was pretty stress-free today. I hit the ball good. I kept it in play. I didn't put myself in tough positions on a golf course where you can put yourself in tough positions, and here we are, nice little 63 to get started.

Q. When you went back home, was there any particular point of emphasis with your game?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Mental. I mean, I have been doing one little thought with my swing, but I've always been like that, just one or two thoughts max. You know what, I was having trouble having my mind clear before every shot.

So I did a little work, just tried to free it up, tried to just kind of see the shots and react to it. And that's exactly the same thing I just did. I felt comfortable out there. I mean, I felt comfortable. I controlled my emotions, pretty level. Obviously it's easy to control your emotion when is you're playing good and you're just par, par, par, birdie.

It's tougher when you start putting yourself in tough positions, which I did on the last hole. I hit a great chip and thought I made it. And then the putt, you know what, it's one of those, you're not going to make every 4-footer on this golf course, and I just happened to miss the last one I had today.

Q. Jordan said today that he never really adjusted to the changed conditions. They were so different from yesterday and earlier in the week. How were you able to adjust to them so quickly?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, like I said, I was very surprised seeing 6-irons stopping where they were stopping. So I got on the -- I talked with a couple guys in the morning, that played early in the morning. I said, hey, how was it -- who was it on the putting green? Somebody on the putting green said, yeah, 4-irons are stopping. I'm like, what? This place was so firm on Tuesday.

And from there on, I fly my third shot all the way to the hole on the 11th hole, and then the same thing with 12, I was aggressive, made a nice birdie there and you've just got to shut the mind and remember you're playing a totally different golf course, which is what I did.

Q. Earlier in the week, did you think par was going to be a pretty good score, or somewhere around there, because of how hard it was playing?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I was putting, when was it, Tuesday or Wednesday -- Wednesday, and somebody said that the tournament record has never been beat here and whatever. I said, "Well, what was it?" And they said 20-under whatever. I said, "Well, let me tell you something: Nobody is getting even close this year if the golf course stays like that."

So obviously it's different. When it's firm, it's a totally different beast. When it's soft, you get a lot more -- it's a lot more accessible. It's a lot easier, but it's the same thing for everybody. It's the same golf course for everybody.

It will be nice to see the next three days what they do. Hopefully they don't touch -- they don't put any water on the greens, they get them a little firmer, roll them and then we get a little bit firmer than it was today.

Q. I heard you mention that this is your 11th year already on TOUR. I was surprised that it's been that long already. How would you describe your career to this point and what are your goals going forward?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, man, I'm not one of those young guns anymore. (Laughter).

I'm happy. You know what, as golfers, we always want to play better. I mean, trust me, you finish second, you're finding the excuse why you didn't finish first. But I think I'm fine with the way things have gone. I'm proud to be a Colombian player playing out here, four-time PGA TOUR winner and kind of opening the doors for some of the South American players to come along.

It was nice to see a fellow Colombian winning the Web.com tour in Bogotá, and hopefully he can keep coming strong and get a TOUR card. I've always said I don't want to be the only Colombian on the PGA TOUR. I want more of them out here and hopefully that happens.

But I'm at peace with my career. Frustrated at times. The last three or four years have been frustrating and like I say, we always want to play better.

Listen, what can I control, man, I wake up every morning, try to do my best and try to come out here and have a good attitude and play good golf. I'll continue to do that as long as I can and hopefully I can get myself in contention a little bit more than I have the last few years.

Q. Do you have any specific goals for the year?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I want to be better mentally. And what do I mean by that? I mean trust myself a little bit more.

When you go through the ups and downs of this game, which everybody does, during those ups, the mind is strong. During those downs, the mind can get a little shaky. It's about being a little bit more stable and more balanced and that's my goal for this year. I want to be a little stronger, I want to trust myself and I want to believe in myself.

Like I said, it's my 11th year out here. You don't play 11 years on the PGA TOUR not being a good player.

Q. What would you say is the biggest surprise, being able to shoot 8-under par like you did, or seeing Jordan Spieth shoot 8-over par on the same day?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Did he shoot 8-over? Let me tell you, that shows you what the mind can do. I mean, listen, look what Jordan has done the last few years, and is it normal for him to go shoot 8-over par? No.

I would say I was a little surprised with my 8-under to be honest. This is a golf course where it's not easy to shoot 8-under. I was surprised with some of the putts I made, because the greens are not greens where you're expecting to make 20-footers and just kind of bumping in the hole.

I didn't know Jordan shot 8, but obviously he must have lost a little bit up here and then had a bad day. But again, everybody has bad days on this sport, man.

Q. Can you talk about what that roll is like with the birdies on 5, 6, 7, 8, and how often did you take a peek at the leaderboard and notice the lead you were putting on everyone?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: To be honest, I didn't look at the leaderboards today. It doesn't really matter today to be honest. I knew I had a nice flow going, and I saw early, the guys in the morning, there were a few 5-unders. I didn't know what the guys in the afternoon were doing.

I always look at the leaderboards come Saturday or Sunday when it's more significant, but on a day like Thursday, I mean, if I shoot 5-, 6-, 7-, 8-, 9-(under), it doesn't really matter. There's three more days to go.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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