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November 5, 2008

Camilo Villegas


SCOTT CROCKETT: Camilo, thank you very much for coming in and joining us, and welcome to the HSBC Champions. Just give us your thoughts on the week ahead and looking ahead to, indeed, your Membership with The European Tour which you joined last week.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, first of all, excited to be back in China. I played in 2006 and it was a great experience. Great field this year, great tournament. The golf course is in great shape and I'm really looking forward to having a good week.
In terms of joining The European Tour, very excited. I've always wanted to play world tours, but just had to put myself in a good position in the World Rankings so I can try to work both schedules as easy as I can.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Sergio was in here before you and was talking about how The Race to Dubai has excited players on both sides of the Atlantic. Obviously you play most of your golf in the States, but it has captured the imagination there, hasn't it.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: It just happens to be my first year joining The European Tour is the first year of The Race to Dubai, too. Obviously it's going to catch a lot of guys' attention, but even before that, I wanted to play both tours. I wanted to get myself in a good World Ranking position, like I said, to be able to set both schedules and play both tours.
But it would be nice to see more guys from the U.S. come and play, since golf is a worldwide sport. It's growing big-time all over the world, and we have to support that.

Q. You just touched on the point that you would like to see more Americans coming and playing in Europe. Do you feel as though there's an obligation on perhaps leading players that are not American-born to play more around the world?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Is it an obligation?

Q. Is it strictly an obligation to play more around the world?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Not at all. I think everybody decides whether they want to play. Everybody decides where they need to be, and I'm just on my side. I always wanted this, to play around the world. So that's why I'm making the decision I'm making.

Q. Who has influenced you in that respect? Is it the Argentinean players, because they go around the world, or is it someone else or just have you always read about The European Tour and wanted to see it?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: It's more myself. Again, it's a worldwide sport. It's been growing big-time around the world. We're not only talking about Camilo Villegas, but we are talking about everybody that's behind me, and I think it's just fair for me to try to show my brand around the world and enjoy what I do playing on both tours.

Q. Second part of the question, do you think that by playing around the world that you will make yourself into a better golfer than you would have done had you played purely in America?

Q. Can you expand?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Probably getting into all of the travel is the main thing, but we are also going to play golf courses under different winds, different weathers and that's only going to make you a better player.

Q. At the press conference yesterday, Phil Mickelson said that the greens here at Sheshan Golf club are quite difficult; do you really think so? And because your putting is not so satisfying, do you think that you can cope with the winds this week?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Because my putting is not so satisfying, is that what I heard? Well, I guess. I guess I didn't make many putts when I won those two tournaments in the States a couple weeks or a couple months ago.
Anyway. The greens are difficult, tough, but they are rolling very good. So with the short putts, if you get a good line and you hit a good stroke, the ball is going to go in.
And regarding my putting, again, I feel pretty comfortable about it.

Q. With your success in 2008, what are your goals in 2009?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I'm very proud of the way I finished in 2008. Obviously I worked very hard to accomplish several goals. Winning on TOUR was unbelievable. The goals will keep coming and getting more challenging. But at the end of the day, I've always said that if I can wake up in the morning, give it my best and have a great attitude, the rest of it is going to take care of itself.

Q. You talked about cycling as a hobby; can you tell me when you first started it, and is it good for golf muscles and fitness or whatever? Wondering why you started it.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I started about five, six months ago. Is it good for golf muscles? I don't know. I've been playing pretty good since I've been cycling. It's just a way to get out. We have a very busy schedule and busy life and just challenge myself in a different area. I love the challenge and cycling has become I would say a little bit of a passion.

Q. Did someone say it's a good idea to have an outside sport like that to escape to, or was it just your own idea that you needed it?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, I've always liked to work out and I've all been very focused on the fitness side of my life, and I guess cycling just relates to that. It's just one more way to get away and challenge myself.

Q. You were over in Spain a couple of weeks ago, and maybe too early to answer this sort of question, but what's the difference between playing a European Tour event and a regular U.S. Tour event?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I don't know. I mean, I've had a chance to play several European Tour events, and what can I say? I mean, yes, the greens might be a little bit slower but we're playing against great players, that's the bottom line. We are playing golf against great players at great golf courses. So at the end of the day, it's the same objective and the same purpose.

Q. What about the camaraderie off the course with the players?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I have a great relationship with a lot of my peers in the states, and I've had a chance to create great relationships with a lot of guys from The European Tour. So I believe I'm pretty easygoing and friendly, I guess.

Q. It has been suggested by young American player a year ago that the Nationwide Tour was probably the second-strongest tour in the world, and The European Tour was below that. Your experience, do you think that's true?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I had a chance to play the Nationwide Tour. It was a great experience. It really prepared me to play on the PGA Tour. I haven't played a full season on The European Tour. Bottom line is that there's great players on The European Tour, great players on the PGA Tour and great players on the Nationwide Tour.
So, again, we all have the same purpose of playing golf as good as we can, and, I don't know, I don't really have an opinion on which is better.

Q. Is golf cool, as they say, in Colombia, or are they sort of -- we have quite a lot of old fuddy-duddies playing at home, generally speaking?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I lost you there. Is golf cool?

Q. Where you come from.

Q. Colombia?

Q. Or is it slightly associated with older people?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, back home, it's all about football. But golf has been growing. The media and the fans have been very supportive, and it's obviously one of my goals to make the game grow in my country. It's nice to see a lot of people that have never held a golf club in their hand and to be talking about golf and supporting me. All I can do is just try to represent my country as good as I can.
Is it cool? I think it's getting more and more popular.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Camilo, thank you very much.

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