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July 12, 2006

Camilo Villegas


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome Camilo Villegas to the 2006 John Deere Classic. Camilo having a super rookie season this year with a couple of Top 5 finishes, three I guess it is. Just talk a little bit about what the season has been like for you so far.

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Fun. Obviously things have changed dramatically, but it's been a lot of fun. It's been an adapting process, learning process, and it's been a challenge. I'm up for challenges, and hopefully will continue the same way or even better.

TODD BUDNICK: Speaking of challenges, what has been the most difficult aspect of being a rookie out here on Tour?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, everything. It's just like the days shrink. I wish I had a little more than 24 hours to get all my stuff done. Traveling, new golf courses, new places, new people, obviously you're playing against the best players in the world, it's going to be tough.

Off the golf course stuff, coming here, talking with you guys, all this stuff. I mean, it's just a little hectic, but it's an adaptation process, and like I said, I'm up for it.

Q. So you do like it? Would you rather have it like this or more sneaking up on people and the Tour and stuff like that?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: You know what, it's good. I like my job, I like what I do, and this is part of the job, being in here and spending time off the golf course with certain people, doing certain stuff. It's not only about playing golf. That's the main goal, play good golf, but it's a lot more than that.

Q. You talked about adapting. I don't know what your junior schedule was like and the focus on the college game. Is there less adapting do you think for kids coming out of college now than there might have been? You guys are used to a lot of the trappings now on the PGA TOUR, aren't you?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, I don't know how it was back then. I had a chance to go to University of Florida for four years, great program, great teammates, great coach, great place, learned a lot, and obviously it prepared me for the next level.

Q. Speaking to that, do you feel like anything can prepare you for the life you have on Tour? Do you feel like you were fully prepared? Do you feel like anybody can be fully prepared for what you have now?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: No, nobody is fully prepared. You never reach the point where you're fully prepared or you're fully comfortable or you're playing perfect. There's always I mean, there's no limit. There's always room to improve, and you've got to constantly be on top of the ball and stick to your routine, do your stuff and just keep up with a tough job.

Q. You go through that stretch starting in late February until the end of March where you had to feel like you could do no wrong for a little bit there. Was that almost too much too soon, or did you think, this is easier than I thought it was going to be?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: No, never. You know what, I never thought it was easier than it is, but I've never set limits. I mean, why would you set a limit? You set goals and you try to accomplish them, but there's no limit. I just try to wake up every morning, give it 100 percent, have fun with it, learn, and just take whatever comes at the end of the day.

Q. It seems like the younger players are playing a power game these days. Do you feel like obviously this is the way of the game, the way you've grown up with it, but do you hear that the game has changed from what it used to be?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, it has a little bit, but obviously I think the media makes a bigger deal out of it than it really is.

When I got to Florida I was very, very light. I tried to gain a little bit of weight, become more fit, obviously started hitting the ball farther, and it's not going to hurt. But it's not the end of the world. Certain golf courses I hit it 30 yards shorter to hit it on the fairway. I played with Freddie Funk at the U.S. Open, and the guy is pretty short but he's pretty straight. I'd rather hit it in the fairway 30 yards back and get it in play than in the rough obviously.

I just think it's not that big of a deal.

Q. Has golf always been your number one sport, and how old were you when you started playing? What's the youth golf scene like where you're from?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Small. It's all about soccer in Colombia. I had a chance to play golf with my dad at his club when he was 35. I had a chance to represent my country a few times, had a chance to go to University of Florida and now we're here making a living.

Q. If you were not a professional golfer, what do you think you'd do for a living?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: I don't know. I don't want to change my job for anything right now. I like it and I enjoy doing it. I did go to school, I did get my degree in business administration, and I know it's tough out here, so you've got to have a backup plan.

Q. Do you have a younger brother?


Q. How old?


Q. Does he play, too?


Q. Is he in school?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, plays for Florida, has two years of golf there left.

Q. Do you feel like for him or for a younger golfer that's the best way? Obviously Florida was very good to you and is very good to him, too. Do you feel like there's merits to going into pro tournaments and not going to college?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, it's just different ways of doing it. I did it going through college, and I loved it. Many guys have been successful not going to school. Did they miss an important part of life? Maybe. I would not change the way I did it.

Q. Kind of going back to the distance thing, there's been some talk this year about the loss of shot making. Do you buy that at all?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: What are you saying? Are you saying the guys that hit it long can't hit other shots?

Q. That's what some people question.

CAMILO VILLEGAS: It's an interesting opinion. I don't think a guy like J.B. Holmes is going to win a golf tournament by seven hitting it past everybody and not hitting good shots after that. I mean, you've got to get the ball in the hole. I wish it was that simple, let's put it that way.

Q. How is Michelle's game compared to at Sony? How is she compared to before? You've seen her before and after this summer.

CAMILO VILLEGAS: I played with her at Sony and I played nine holes with her on Monday. To be honest with you, I thought she was a little nervous at that Sony the first round, and her score showed it a little bit.

Second day she went out there, she had fun, she played great golf. I think only nine guys in the field beat her that day.

Monday she hit the ball good. She's obviously swinging great, and it's almost, what, six months later. She's played more as a pro, and we'll see what happens this week. It'll be interesting to see.

Q. How impressed are you by what she's doing here and what she's trying to accomplish?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: I don't really understand, impressed in what way?

Q. Well, just in the way she's handled herself, being in a men's tournament with all the attention on her.

CAMILO VILLEGAS: She's a good girl. Michelle is a good girl. I've had a chance to play with her twice. You guys have got to remember she's 16. Sometimes you guys are a little bit too critical about her. She is going to be a great player. She's going to win many times. I know she hasn't, but it's a matter of time. It's a matter of just letting her do her own thing. I know she works hard, she swings good, I know she handles herself great. It's all going to fall into place, believe me.

Q. Do you need to win here to qualify for the British Open, or is there another way for you to get in?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: I've got to be the lowest guy not exempt being in the Top 10. I know it but I just can't think about it. I've got to go out there, hit one shot at a time, see what happens. If it happens, good. If not, it will be two nice weeks off. I need it, it's been a long year.

Q. Did you dwell at all on The Masters, as close as you came? How long did it take after THE PLAYERS for you to get rid of it?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Not really. I mean, once it happened, it was past. It was great to have a chance to play for it. It was a great beginning of the year. Obviously it's a tournament I've always wanted to play, but I don't think life changed that much by playing it or not playing it.

Here we are, we've got this week, focus on this week. Back in, like I said, I think it was March, hopefully there will be many Masters for me in the future.

Q. Can you talk about your style of reading putts and do you think it's going to catch on?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: What do you mean?

Q. Do you think other people are going to start doing it?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: I don't know. I like it. Obviously I do it because it works. I don't know, I'm just trying to be myself and I'm just trying to do what it takes to be better and play better golf.

Q. Where did you come up with that style? Was that just something that came into your head?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Not really. Middle round last year, putting poorly, maybe reading the greens better was going to help me. Go straight down, middle of the round, liked it, felt good, ever since.

Q. Do guys give you a hard time about it at all or do you take a little ribbing?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Here and there, but like I said, I'm just trying to be myself.

Q. People Magazine calls out of the blue and says, "You're one of our beautiful people." How do you react?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: It was interesting. It was interesting. It was a lot of attention through the golf part, through the golf business, and then you get that call. I was surprised in certain ways, but I was happy about it. I mean, it's business overall.

Q. Do you lift a lot of weights during the season?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: I try to maintain my weight pretty much. It's harder to lift, go hard, during the season. I feel comfortable where my body is right now, and I'm just trying to maintain.

Q. Did you work out with any of the football players or other athletes at Florida?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Sure, we had the same gym. Those guys were strong (laughter).

Q. Did that help motivate you, too?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: I don't know about motivating, but when you see a guy grabbing 180 pound dumbbells and you're grabbing 50s, I don't know how that can motivate you. You're never going to get there anyway.

Q. Any friends that you maintain relationships with from either the football or basketball teams there or anything like that?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: I still live in Gainesville so I have a chance to see a couple of them when I'm around.

Q. You have said that you don't set limits, you set goals. I was wondering what goals you set at the start of this year and if those goals have changed at all for the rest of the season.

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Not really. I mean, the one main goal I'm going to tell you is that I'm trying to have fun and get better. If I do that, then I'll become a better player, and all the other goals I have in my head are going to hopefully be accomplished or I'm going to get a step closer to accomplishing them.

Q. Does the extra media of People Magazine, and I think it was GQ I saw you in, does that change make you feel any more pressure, make you feel different, make your life harder in any way?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Not really. I mean, I've been saying it all year. The bottom line is you've got to play good golf. You've got to remember why you're here. You've got to remember what brought you here, and you've got to stick to your routine. It's impossible to make everybody happy. It's impossible to have time for everybody, but you've got to remember you've got to have time for yourself.

TODD BUDNICK: Thanks, Camilo.

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