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March 26, 2006

Camilo Villegas


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Camilo, thanks for joining us here at THE PLAYERS Championship. Great week for you. Could we just have some opening comments about a good week for your first appearance at THE PLAYERS Championship.

CAMILO VILLEGAS: It is. It's been a fun week. Getting in at the last minute and having a chance to play this great event, great golf course, great field, it's been a lot of fun. It's been a lot of fun, and the learning curve keeps going the right way, I guess. I played well, and maybe I'm going to be a little bit short of one big goal I had, but you know what, I gave it my best, and hopefully there will be plenty of Masters for me in the future.

Q. Can you talk about No. 11? You gave yourself that awesome eagle chance and then can you talk about the putts?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, just a three putt (laughter). Everybody does it out here. The greens are a little baked, quick. I hit a good first putt, just broke a little bit toward the left at the end. I wasn't expecting that one, and just a little hiccup for the last one. I cannot look at those things. Everybody three putts, and obviously probably not the hole to leave one out there, but I was proud of myself, came back on the next hole and made a great par.

Q. Once you got in this week, how much was The Masters on your mind?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: You know, I cannot control numbers out there. I cannot control what's going on with what other guys are doing, I can only control my mental game, just get good targets and be aggressive, and that's what I did. I was very patient this week, and I tried to do that. I gave it my best, and it looked like it's not going to happen, but like I said, hopefully there will be plenty of Masters for me in the future.

Q. What did you learn from playing a course like this this week with such a tough setup?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Just patience. I mean, you've got to be so patient and hopefully not make big numbers. We saw a lot of guys making big numbers out there, and obviously it's very easy to do, especially on 16, 17 and 18, what great finishing holes. You've just got to get good targets and fire at it.

I was proud of my attitude this week, so it was fun and I learned a lot.

Q. Would you call yourself a patient guy by nature?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: (Smiling.) I don't know about that, but I'm learning. You've got to be patient when you play this game. It's a tough game. You just put it aside for a little bit and it's going to get on you, so I've been learning.

Q. Are you playing next week in Atlanta?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: You know, this is my fifth week in a row, and I am very tired, so I'm not going to play next week.

Q. What will you be doing in two weeks, just going back to Gainesville for two weeks?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: I don't know, I haven't thought about it. I was really working hard to be in a great spot, but I don't know, we'll see what my plans are.

Q. Did anybody in your group this week, or once you got in, tell you approximately where you needed to finish? Did you have a vague idea that you needed to get somewhere around 3rd or so for The Masters, or did anybody ever mention that?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: No, and I didn't even look. Everybody asked me about it, like this guy has to know, but you know what, if I started looking at the leaderboard, and I go, man, I'm 10th, I'm 8th, I'm 5th, oh, man, I made bogey, I'm 12th now. That's going to drive me crazy. That's going to take my head from the main goal, which is get good targets and aim at them.

Furyk asked me after we were done on 18, is that going to get you in the Masters? I just looked at him and said, you know, it's probably going to be short, but I gave it my best.

Q. Is it tougher to come so close to making The Masters and not making it than just knowing, well, I'm going to have to wait another year or another two years? Do you feel great about at least having put yourself in that position, or is it even more heartbreaking?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: It's my first year out here, and I've got nothing to complain about. It's been so much fun, getting to play great golf courses, great tournaments with the best players in the world. I mean, you try to learn from them and just get better and hopefully become one of those soon. It's been a fun ride. It's been a fun ride, and that's all I can say.

Q. Have you had any conversation with Chris DiMarco this week, or do you know him at all or have you talked to him since you guys are both Gators?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, he did. He called me, let me know what was going on, came here and prepared myself like I was going to play. He wasn't really sure what was going to happen. I mean, hopefully he's getting better, and I was happy to be playing at this great event.

Q. You sound like the conversation was pretty straightforward. Do you know him on a friendly basis?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, I mean, obviously Gators stick around. We both are IMG guys, so we deal with the same people. On Tuesday he told me that he wasn't feeling too good, that I had to come up here, even though he wasn't sure what was going to happen, I had to come here and prepare myself like I was going to play the tournament.

Q. What was your comfort level early on because you just found out you were playing, first alternate? Do you look back because you missed the chance for a Masters and missed by a few strokes, looked back at how it could have been if your comfort level was better earlier on, because it seemed to get better as the week went on?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: What do you mean?

Q. Comfort level about the course and how you played. It seemed actually when the conditions seemed to get worse the last two days, you seemed to play better?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: I really battled the last three days. The first day I had it going there on 10 and then I had 8 iron in my hand on 11, so huge mistake, and was 2 over.

But then Friday was a tough day, playing in the afternoon was a tough day. I grinded it out, barely made the cut, looked at the leaderboard and I'm only eight shots from the leader. On this golf course? That can go quick.

I came out here early on Saturday, did my job, put myself in position again and did the same thing today, came out here, battled, and I don't know what I'm at, I don't know what I'm going to finish, but I'm proud of the way I played.

Q. You've made a couple of references about the Masters being a goal of yours. When did it become a goal? Was it at the start of the year? Was it after the year got going and you were playing well?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: It's always been a dream. You'd always want to be playing the majors and I've watched that one a million times on TV. You get off to a great start I mean, you've got to take everything step by step. Got off to a great start, finished 2nd at F.B.R., played great at Doral, finished 2nd there, and I go, man, maybe I can put one more great week in there and sneak in the Top 10.

But like I said, I mean, you just cannot control those thoughts. You can only control the process of preparing for the golf tournament, going out there, picking your targets, staying mentally strong and giving it your best.

Q. I know The Masters is televised in a lot of countries, but when you were young was it on TV in Colombia?


Q. How long have you been watching it?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: It's been a while. I've been playing golf since I was seven or eight, and probably that's when I started watching that one.

Q. Is this the toughest condition golf course you've played, and if not, what have you played that's been tougher?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: It was a great challenge out here. I mean, it was really tough. You had to be really patient, especially today. Those greens, it looks like there's no grass on some of them. I had a chance to play Shinnecock, my first professional event, and that was a little bit too much for me (laughter).

Q. Talk about this being a learning curve, will you be disappointed if you don't win this season?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Not at all. I mean, I'm out here to get better, to have fun. Is it going to come? We'll find out. When? Hopefully quick. I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing, working hard and preparing myself to become a better player.

Q. The whole thing about you kids hitting the ball so far, that it's kind of become a driver wedge game, obviously not the case on this golf course

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Which golf course is that true?

Q. Well, the point is this was not driver wedge for you, that you showed a complete sort of game this week. Do you look at it in those terms as if to say I'm more than just a kid who hits the ball a long way and can control my wedges?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: We're playing against the best players in the world. I wish it were just a driver wedge game. Bottom line is you've got to roll it. You're going to miss greens. If you're going to be aggressive and go at the pins you're going to miss greens, so you've got to have a full package to play against the best players out here. Hitting it far, I mean, I won't complain about it. I'm obviously not in the J.B. and Bubba Watson league. I played with J.B. yesterday, and man, he hits it. I try to stay fit and stay in shape, and hopefully my body can keep up for a long time.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Camilo, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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