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August 31, 2008

Camilo Villegas


STEWART MOORE: We'd like to welcome Camilo Villegas here to the interview room at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Great third round 63 out there on a scoring day where it certainly seemed early on, outside of Ben Crane, the golf course was playing a little more difficult, and you went out there and got hot, especially birdieing your last two. Talk about your round.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, obviously what a great day, 8-under on a day where the greens got a little firmer and the wind was blowing. It was a little tricky, the wind. It was pretty much sideways on every hole, and it was hard knowing whether it was helping a little bit or hurting a little bit, and when you misjudge the wind in those situations, it's going to be a six-, seven-yard difference.
My caddie and I did a great job in terms of the wind, and we hit some good tee shots, good second shots, and obviously we rolled some good putts. So I'm happy with the way I handled myself out there today.
STEWART MOORE: Four putts over your last five holes, 22 putts on the day, greens I'd say were getting a little dried out; obviously you were rolling the pill pretty well.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Funny, I listened to Vijay last week in his interview, and obviously not the best putter in the world, but a good putter and a great player. You get the media here that talks, oh, he's not a great putter and then somebody tells him he's not a great putter and then all of a sudden it just gets in your head. He decided to tell himself that he's the best putter in the world, and this worked last week.
It's been a little bit similar in my case. You read a little bit, oh, he's not a great putter and he missed those short ones and he missed here and he missed there, and starting this year I decided to tell myself something similar to what Vijay told himself last week, that I'm a great putter and that I'm a lot better than people think and people write.
So today was a good reflection, and if you look at my putting stats for the year, I'm one of the great putters on TOUR.

Q. What were you thinking of coming into this week? You know, you were close to the cutoff to go into next week. Were you thinking that, were you thinking winning, were you thinking playing?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Believe it or not, I was not in next week, even though last week was my only third missed cut of the year. I thought I had a pretty consistent year and a good year. But with this crazy points system, anything can happen. And last week happened to be the worst cut of the year to miss, and I missed by one. So I got penalized, and it wasn't the line, but I came out here this week with a good attitude and forgot about what happened, forgot about those that are taking benefit of the points system, forgot about those that are being hurt by the points system, and just took care of business.
I'm in next week, and hopefully I'll have a great round tomorrow and we make it a very special week.

Q. Secondly, I'm just curious if you want to talk about your year. It seems like you've taken some, I don't know what the Colombian word is, but baby steps. I mean, you played very nicely for the second round at the British under tough conditions, the PGA, again, another step. Do you see yourself on a very kind of a slow, steady, consistent climb upward as opposed to --
CAMILO VILLEGAS: That's been one of my biggest goals when I got on the PGA TOUR. I've always known that I'm a good player, but I've always believed that I can improve. I'm not one of those guys that make like big changes in my swing or just drastic stuff. I like to take it one step at a time, and yeah, we can call it baby steps. I've been getting better and better every year, and like I said, that's one of my goals. We'll keep working to continue it that way and become one of the best players in the world.

Q. Did you see that, I guess, as improvement? You've described some express amounts of surprise being in your position having made so many cuts this year. Do you see that as improvement, the fact that you haven't missed many cuts?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, consistency is one of those areas where you want to be strong, and putting yourself in position. At the beginning of the year I put myself in position a lot, but I just didn't play very good on the weekend. Later in the season I found out that I was being a little tired on the weekend and I was just working out a little too hard, and my focus wasn't there. And I said, you know what, let's take it a little easy, let's focus a little bit more on being rested, and my performances started getting better.

Q. You've talked a lot about your preparation and how important that is to you. Has your preparation kind of evolved this year? Are you doing anything, sort of emphasizing certain things?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Always. That's one of the -- it's part of the things you've got to do to accomplish your goals. More than practice more, it's learn about yourself. It's only my third year on TOUR, and I've learned about myself year after year. And believe it or not, one of the things I've learned this year is that there's no need to practice as much. There's no need to bang balls and balls and balls, but just whenever you have a good thought, whenever you have a good feeling, just keep it flowing and go with it. Whenever you're struggling, then you work a little harder. I've definitely practiced a little bit less this year, but I feel better.

Q. You didn't learn that from Vijay, though.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Negative (laughter).

Q. You've been in contention several times in your three years, including right out of the chute, Doral and Honda last year and earlier this year. It's a tough question. Are you disappointed you haven't won by now? Did you think you might have by now, and how do you kind of weigh that against the experience you've picked up along the way?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I knew that question was coming (laughter).

Q. Because I know what the answer ought to be.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I'm very proud of myself. I'm very proud of myself, and yes, there's a little bittersweet taste when you work so hard and you haven't won, when you see young guys winning, and you go like, man, it's about my time.
But I was very, very patient until maybe middle of this year, where I worked with somebody and I looked at him, and I said, listen, you know what, I see all these young guys winning, and it's kind of getting into me, but it's getting into me in a good way. It's time to step it up and give a little kick on my butt and join them. So I've been working on that.
But again, it's a process. Some guys win right away when they get on TOUR and never win again, and some guys it takes a while and win many times after that, and hopefully I'm one of those guys.

Q. Who are you working with?

Q. I thought you said you were working with somebody.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I've got a little team behind me. It's tough out here. It takes more than one.

Q. It wasn't Manny, was it?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: No, no, my brother just turned pro, and he's very excited. He went actually to Colombia and won the Colombian Open; I'm very proud of him. And hopefully he can just follow in my footsteps and join me here very soon.

Q. How long ago was that?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: About a month ago.

Q. So he's got a win now and you don't?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I won that one when I was an amateur (laughter). I won in Japan last year, too.

Q. How old is he?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: He's three years younger than me. That would put him at 23.

Q. Way off the beaten path here, what was your GPA at Florida? Did you ever have a B?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Of course I did.

Q. Well, I knew you were an honors student, but how high was it?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I was a good student, let's put it that way. I think it was 3.8 overall. But it doesn't matter.

Q. It does.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Actually it does, but I had a lot of fun at Florida. I learned a lot of good stuff in terms of school, in terms of golf, and it was -- I mean, I have so many good memories that I just keep it in my heart. It's a great place.

Q. How much English did you know when you got here?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: It's improved (laughter).

Q. Yeah, I gathered that. I mean, almost none, a good bit?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I did a little bit. I could understand more than I could speak it, and it was more because of just being a little shy, and then one day I said, you know what, hell with it, I'm just going to open my mouth, and whatever comes out, comes out. If somebody is going to make fun of me, and I'll say, hey, instead of laughing at me why don't you tell me the correct way of saying it. That's exactly what I did with my teammates, with my coaches and with everybody around, and when I turned my attitude around, they said, this guy is not messing around, we won't make fun of him, but instead we'll just teach him. And I got better.

Q. How was your reading comprehension?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Reading, it was very slow but it was good. Actually I was going to say that, that when you have classes with 300, 400 students, I didn't see the point of showing up. I just got my book, I read it and I went and took the test.

Q. It must have taken hard work with your grades if you're battling trying to learn the language, reading the stuff. Did you have to work harder than most?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: It took time, and obviously coming to the States and to Florida and having all those new opportunities and a pretty busy schedule was a little overwhelming, different culture, a lot of new stuff. But you have to just really manage your time, have a good plan for every day and stick to it.

Q. You mentioned you've cut back on your workout schedule. Could you talk about what's a typical workout for you?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I'm getting fat now (laughter).

Q. What's a typical workout for you and how much do you do every week?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: It switches so much from week to week, from how many weeks I have off, how many -- if I'm going to work out on the road, if I'm going to work out at home, if I'm going to work out in the off-season. But if I had to specify the most important things, it would be stretching and core. That's the main things. And just staying healthy.
But it switches so much. I can talk about it here for hours and it just wouldn't make sense.

Q. How many hours a week?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Again, it depends. This week I've been in the gym three times for about an hour and a half each. If you guys let me go, I'll go get another workout in.

Q. Growing up who were some of the golfers you admired most and why?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I don't know, you've got to look at the greatest obviously, the big names out there. In my theory, you look at those big names and you take a little positive out of each and you try to make your dream player and just try to be like that.

Q. You're probably one of the five biggest gallery pullers out here. There's always a good pack following you. What do you attribute that to? Obviously you haven't won 23 majors and you're not the longest hitter. I'm going to embarrass you by pressing this point. I want you to answer the question.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: You know what, it's actually funny you say that. I'm just so happy to be out here and I'm just trying to be myself. Every time I step on the golf course I'm trying to be the best I can by trying to be myself, the way I play golf, the way I dress, the way I treat people, et cetera, et cetera. I think people appreciate that.
I've always been lucky to be on that good side of the media, good side of the fans, and I've got to say thanks. It's fun. It's fun to go out there and fun doing what I'm doing and to have this rapport I've been having the last three years. Hopefully it stays like that, it keeps getting better, and I'll keep being myself.

Q. Can you just hit the round real quick?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: No. 2, birdie, I was in between there -- actually I don't have a 4-iron in my bag. I put a 63-degree in and I took my 4-iron out and I just got my 5-iron a little stronger and got my 3-iron a little weaker. So I was a little in between clubs on No. 2. I decided to cut a 3-iron that went over the green, and it was a bad spot over there. I hit a good little pitch that went about, I don't know, 15 feet by, and I drained that one. I was happy to make that one.
Then I went to No. 4. I hit a beautiful drive, just bounced short of the green, went over the green, not in the best lie, but I made good use of that 63, up in the air and hit it to about maybe three feet.
Then No. 6, I hit a beautiful drive there. I only had a lob wedge in. I hit full lob wedge about 106 yards where I had to pitch it, and I hit it tight again. I hit it to about maybe two and a half, three feet.
Then No. 9, good drive, good 7-iron, was blowing in from the right there, and it was a little tricky. But got it to the front of the green and made about I'll say 20-, 22-foot putt, just right edge.
Then I went to No. 12. That was a tricky one. I hit a beautiful drive but the wind was in one of those situations where I was telling you guys, is it hurting, is it helping, is it hurting, is it helping. It happens to be on that hole, short of the green you've got a hazard and over the green it's not good. So I just tried to commit to my shot. I hit a good 9-iron that pitched a little left, got a little help up the hill to about I'm going to say 12 feet. I had a spike mark that was a perfect spot to aim it, and I just had to roll just right of it, and the second it rolled just right of it, I said, it's going to go in the hole, and it did.
Then we went to 14, beautiful drive. I only had a sand wedge in there. I was feeling good with that one. It was a tough pin. I just got aggressive, hit it there on the back of the green, just off the green in the fringe, but it was only about -- I'm going to say about a 12-footer again. I thought I missed that one actually. I thought I left it a little bit short, but it happened to roll out, broke a little bit left at the end and got in.
And then 17, again, nice 3-iron off the tee, perfect number I had for my second shot, 116 yards with my sand wedge, and it pitched right on it, checked nicely, and it was about -- I'm going to say, what, two and a half feet.
And then on 18, I hit a bad drive. The second I did, I looked at my caddie, and I said, listen, where that pin is, it's a pretty tough hole where you go for it in two, even if you're hitting a 6-iron. So let's get a good layup, let's get a good third and make a birdie the old fashioned way. It worked out. I hit a full lob wedge from 110 yards, a little wind helping, and rolled in a nice putt, just right edge and closed my eyes and hit it.

Q. What did you hit on 4, 3-wood or driver off that tee?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Driver today. I've hit driver every day. I hit 3-wood in the practice round, but it's a tricky one. It's tough to pull a club there, I can tell you that, because there's no real great spot around that green.
STEWART MOORE: Camilo, thanks so much.

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