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July 18, 2008
MALCOLM BOOTH: Ladies and gentlemen, we're joined by Camilo Villegas. Camilo shot 65 today for a total of 141, 1-over par. That was an outstanding round of golf today and a great finish. Take us through your thoughts on it, please.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Very interesting. I obviously played unbelievable. Got off to a bad start, bogeyed the first two holes, and I don't know, I kept my composure after that. But somehow my caddie just told me to keep battling, keep grinding, and came back with two birdies on No. 4 and 5. The back nine was obviously very special finishing with five birdies in a row.
34 putts yesterday, I think I had 23 today, so awful putting round yesterday, unbelievable putting round today, and very excited to be right in it.
Q. Obviously the last five holes were where you made the score. Could you just take us through hole by hole?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Not really. I also played 13 others, and they were tough (smiling).
Q. If you could just go through the clubs you hit.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Last five?
14th hole, I believe I hit a 5-iron, just tried to keep it low. It's blowing in from the right. Hit about 16 feet, rolled a great putt in.
Then I go to 15, hit a bad drive. I hit it in the left, and kind of got a little lucky there, got a good lie. Hit 3-wood just barely over those two cross bunkers over there. Then I just hit a little chip 9-iron to about six feet and just rolled a nice putt in.
16th, tough hole, I hit a beautiful drive, and then -- what did I hit there? A 5-iron. I was trying to keep it as low as possible, just bounce it up four or five yards on the green, did just that, and it rolled past I'll say about 16, 17 feet. I hit a good putt there, but I thought it wasn't going to break enough at the end, and it did. It just snuck in on the right side of the hole, which was obviously nice.
Then I got to 17. 17, hit a beautiful drive, only had a 7-iron in, but man, that's a funky green and it's tough to hit it. I hit a good second shot, bounced a little left, got in that bunker but managed to hit a beautiful bunker shot to about two and a half, three feet.
And then 18. 18 was interesting. I hit driver a little bit left. My caddie wasn't too happy that I hit the driver, but I guess it ended up working just fine.
Left rough, not a great lie. I believe I had like 176 to the pin and I hit pitching wedge (laughter). That tells you how funky it is to play golf around here. I mean, I was trying to bounce the ball about five yards short of the green and roll it up there. It jumped a little bit, bounced a little bit farther up, somehow it hit the pin, and I got a little lucky. So I looked at my caddie, and I said, listen, we just got a little lucky here and let's take advantage of this one and close it up, and rolled a nice one in.
Q. How long was that nice putt?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I don't know, 20, 25 feet.
Q. Could you just talk about the conditions today compared to yesterday? Would you have thought a 65 was out there given what you had gone through yesterday and how tough it's been?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Let me tell you, when you get on the first tee you never think about a score. You just think about every single shot because you don't know how bad it can get, when the weather is going to get like it was yesterday morning, so you're just trying to grind every single shot, and that's what I did. I got off to a bad start, bogey, bogey, and then I managed to hang in there and hit some good shots.
Q. It doesn't look anything like Medellin out there or Florida. I was wondering, does it bother you, the weather?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I was taking that question a different way, but no, it doesn't bother me. If it's the same for everybody, who cares. Obviously yesterday it wasn't the same for everybody. Those guys in the morning didn't get very lucky. I'm glad I was on this side of the draw.
But you've just got to grind it out. It's tough around here. Like I said, you never know what's coming, and you're playing golf with two, three layers, which just restricts you a little bit and you're not used to. But again, if it's the same for everybody, who cares?
Q. You used the word funky once or twice earlier. Can you go into a little bit more why you think this is funky and tell us whether you're actually enjoying having to play golf that you wouldn't play every week obviously?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, well, when I say funky, I obviously don't mean anything bad. I'm just saying it's so different than what we're used to. I mean, downwind you can hit a driver that goes 370 yards, and then you get into the wind and you're hitting a driver 230. I mean, on the 6th hole I believe I had 205 to the front, and I killed a 3-wood, perfect, and it pitched two yards on. My 3-wood carries normally 260.
So it's a strong wind, it's a heavy, like, atmosphere, and the ball really, really gets affected. It's very different.
Q. What's with the putting today? Yesterday 34, today 23?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Just trying to even it out, man (laughter).
Q. Did you work on it last night or this morning?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I thought about it a lot, I can tell you that. Yesterday everything was bad. I mean, my speed was bad, my short putts were not very good, my stroke wasn't feeling right, and today I just said, you know what, just don't think about it, just loosen it up. Let the putter head do the work, not my hands, and that was obviously a good thought.
Q. What's the hardest thing for you to adjust to with this links style of golf? You mentioned that you're not used to it, it's not something you're accustomed to. When you've gotten over here and tried to get ready for this tournament, what's the hardest thing for you to do to adjust and play a course like this?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I guess it would just be patience. I mean, I love playing here. I love the different conditions, I love the different shots, I love the fact that you have to use your imagination, and again, hit all those funky or different style shots. So I'm very excited to be here.
And maybe being patient because you can get on a bad roll and that's when you've just got to grind it out and get back in it and step it up.
Q. Can you talk about how you got in the field? I think you were an alternate, but did you know before you came over here that you were in, and how that all came down?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Let me tell you, I was playing a Pro-Am at AT&T, and I had Sid Wilson there walking with me and trying to figure out what was going on. There were so many variables and so much stuff going on that I looked at Sid, and I just said, "Sid, just let me play and we'll talk on Monday." So it ended up working just fine. I was 51 in the world, first alternate. Kenny Perry decided not to come, which I'm glad he didn't, and it got me in the field.
Q. Your home city in Colombia has a bad reputation for crime and drugs and what have you. Can you tell us a little bit about your upbringing and what this would mean for Colombia and Colombian golf?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I love my country, first of all. It's a great, great place and I really, really miss it. Just like every country it's got its problems, and we tend to have that reputation, but I guarantee everyone in this room when you guys visit it's completely different than what the news says.
A win would be huge. We're only halfway there. There's a lot of golf to be played. But the game of golf has been growing in a very significant and nice way in my country, and that's one of my goals, just to represent my country in the best way I can and to hopefully just take it while it's there.
Q. You're clearly well in the running now. The forecast for tomorrow is for even stronger winds, 50 miles an hour.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: 60 you said?
Q. 40 or 50. You've got guys around you with more experience with this type of golf. How do you approach that tomorrow?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: How do I approach what, the other guys or me?
Q. The course.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I'll keep doing exactly what I'm doing, just have fun with it. Yes, it's my first Open, yes, it's only my third year on TOUR, but I feel pretty good about myself. I feel pretty good about my game, and it's going to be a good challenge for me.
Q. You were talking just now about needing patience to play here. I talked to Stewart Cink a couple of days ago, and he said he had been coming here for ten years and he still hadn't completely worked out how to play here. How long do you think it would take you before you feel comfortable in an environment and on a course like this?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Let me tell you, I felt pretty comfortable out there today, obviously.
No, it's tough. It's tough, but it's tough for everybody, let me tell you that. Even the guys that play here, when you're hitting a pitching wedge from 180 yards or when you're hitting a 6-iron from 110, it's different. It's tough. You've got to really trust your instincts and just don't second-guess yourself.
Q. After the bogey-bogey start, I think you were 6-over. What's going through your mind at that point?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I was actually 8 after that. Probably just, come on, grind it up and make the cut.
No, I've been very patient this year. I mean, we made a bad mistake with my club on the 2nd hole, ended up costing us a bogey that should have never been a bogey.
My caddie and I talked about that one on 3. We said, let's make a good 4 here on No. 3 and let's get it going. It got nasty on No. 4 and I made a great birdie there, hit a beautiful 6-iron when it was starting to rain, and that kind of got me going. I mean, that got my attitude back right in place and ready to grind.
Q. I wonder, is this the first time this week that you've ever played links golf?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: No, I had a chance to play two British Amateurs, one at Hoylake and the other one at Royal County Down. That was a while ago. But two great golf courses and obviously very similar to this.
Q. Do you remember your first impression of it? Did you like it right from the start, or were you confused?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I love it here. I love it here.
Q. Did you like it the first time you saw it?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, obviously very different, like I said. I've repeated myself many times myself about that. It requires a lot of imagination. I love that.
Q. What was the mix-up in club selection on 2?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, we just hit too much club. I mean, I'm trying to hit this ball so low, and we said, yeah, it's okay to bounce it on the hole, and it came just like we wanted, very low. It pitched about five yards past, and obviously it just -- the green was wet and it just skipped all the way over the green and ended up three-putts from just off the green.
Q. What was the club?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Oh, man, what was the club? What did I hit, 6-iron maybe? It's hard to remember here what you hit. You're hitting 6-iron from 110. It was something out there.
Q. Can you give your thoughts on the fact that a 53-year-old who plays more tennis than golf these days is leading the Open, and do you have any memories of watching Greg Norman as a kid?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Obviously No. 1 in the world for a while, great player, had a chance to play a practise round with him on Tuesday, great guy. A guy who has played many Opens, so very experienced individual and I'm glad he's playing good.
Q. You said that you played a practise round with Norman. Did he share some secrets with you how to tackle Opens?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, we talked about many things, and obviously links golf and these type of golf courses. He had some good advice. And obviously when somebody like that tells you something, you'd better listen.
Q. You mentioned the problems of your country. I mean, was that something you closely experienced, or did you read about it like we read about it?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Again, Colombia is a great country. Yes, it's got its problems like every other country, but I miss it. I miss my country. I'm very proud to be from Colombia. I'm very proud to be representing them in a good way. And fortunately enough, I've never been very directly involved with what goes on there.
MALCOLM BOOTH: Camilo, thank you very much.
End of FastScripts