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January 27, 2009

Camilo Villegas


DOUG MILNE: Camilo Villegas, thank you for joining us for a few minutes here at the FBR Open. You've played this event since 2006, and I think it was in 2006 when you had a T2, runner-up. Just a couple comments on the course, how you found it to be. I know you said you played the back nine.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, I played the back nine this morning. It's in good shape, and I saw they maybe brought the rough a little bit in on some of the holes. I might be wrong, but I think the 10th fairway down the left they might have brought the rough a little bit in, and then on the par-4, 14, I saw they brought in the rough. But again, it's in good shape.
I'm excited to be here. It's a great golf tournament. The Thunderbirds put on a great show. They gave me a sponsor invite in 2006, which I'm very, very thankful for. It was a very great week for me back then. I finished tied for second, and I've been coming ever since.
Like I said, they put on a great show. They donate a bunch of money for charity, and that's very nice.
DOUG MILNE: You're off to a good start in '09, T12 at Mercedes. Just kind of assess the state of your game.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I'm excited. The break wasn't too long, but I keep hearing from some players that it always keeps getting shorter and shorter, so I'd better get used to it.
No, but it was -- the finish of '08 was spectacular, was so much fun, was so many goals accomplished. But at the same time, it just raises my standards, changes my goals, and makes me work harder. So I want to have a great 2009 season. I want to keep getting better, keep improving, and I'm going to have to challenge myself and stick to it, work hard, and accomplish my goals.

Q. What are your goals?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, I always say the same thing. The main goal is wake up every morning with a great attitude, and you guys have heard it from me many times and will continue to hear that. If I can do that, I think I can accomplish a lot of the other things.
Winning is winning. It's a great feeling. That's why we work so hard. So obviously I'd like to finish '09 and look back and say I won a golf tournament or two or whatever. Majors are history, and you want to be part of history, so you've got to prepare yourself and get better at those. Last year was, I believe, a good year for me in majors where I played my first British Open, had a great second round, put myself in contention. Unfortunately I didn't putt great on the weekend, but it was a great learning experience. And then I finished top 10 at the U.S. Open and finished fourth at the PGA.
Hopefully this year we get even a little bit better. Again, majors are history, and you want to be part of that.
And other than that, just what I've been doing, get a little bit better. In '07 I was a little bit better person, a little bit better player than in '06. Same thing happened in '08, and I want the same thing to happen by the time we finish '09.

Q. What elevated last year as far as your game, whether it be putting or whatever, for you to make that step up in '08?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, it's a combination of many things. But this game is a big-time mental game. I know my putting stats got a little better. I know I made a lot more putts, and I think that was because of a little tweak I made in my setup where I got my hands a little bit forward and I felt a lot more comfortable just the way I was releasing the blade.
But at the same time, my head was working a little bit better, and what I mean by that is you start getting a little confidence, putt goes in, you put a good roll, putt goes in, you feel good, you feel confident, you feel like you don't have to be so aggressive maybe with second shots and you can just play a little smarter from the fairways and you're still going to have a good roll and a good chance for birdie. And all of a sudden you start climbing up the boards and then put yourself in contention, and I won twice.

Q. What does Anthony Kim's game have that you want, and what do you have in your arsenal that he probably could use?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, every time I ask him how he does something, he says, "I just guess," which is interesting.

Q. Like name something.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Everything. I'll say, "How do you hit a wedge like this?" "I just get there and guess." "How do you hit it so far?" "I just get there and guess and just swing." We're very different players I'd say. We're both young. We both won twice last year, but in terms of the way we play the golf course, I think I'm always very concerned about being very well prepared and knowing all my lines and knowing all my numbers, and when it comes to the swing, I'm a feel player.
I think Anthony, when it comes to preparation, he's more of a feel player, and whatever he sees out there, he doesn't worry too much about what the through lines are and stuff like that. And when it comes to the swing, he's a little bit more mechanical than me.

Q. Can you talk about the 16th hole, and now that it's fully enclosed what does that do to the hole?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: It's going to be a lot of fun. Hopefully I can hit it in the middle of the green four days and don't get booed. No, it's great. You know what, it's -- there's only one 16 hole. There's only one place on earth, one hole on earth like that. The fans are crazy. I know there's a lot of alcohol being served there. You're going to get people yelling great stuff and then people yelling some stuff that is maybe not appropriate.
But again, it's only one week a year, and you've got to have a good attitude toward it. You've got to understand that the Thunderbirds are putting on a great show, donating a lot of money for charity, and we've got to be thankful to be here.

Q. Does it remind you of anything, the stadium, when you step in there? Does it remind you of a stadium?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, it is a stadium. It's just fully enclosed, and I don't know how many people it can hold. But when it's pumping, it's crazy out there.

Q. Have you been booed?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I've missed the green before.

Q. Do you get the sense, maybe a sense of pride, that you have proved people wrong along the way?

Q. Well, you went to Florida and you didn't speak English and you made straight As and you came out here, well, maybe he doesn't putt well enough, and you won twice last year. I mean, you keep achieving.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I work hard for it, I can tell you that, and always have. You've got to be a little selfish and just stick to what you think and what you believe and do the things the way you believe they are going to work for you, and that's what I've done. Yes, I've had a lot of help from people around, but at the same time, I'm not one of those guys that turns the TV on and listens to what they're saying about me or maybe opens every magazine and reads every article and sees what they're saying about how I play, how I dress. I'm very fortunate that the media and the fans have been very, very good to me. A lot of the stuff that has been said and the way people treat me are very positive.
But even if it's great things that they're saying about me or maybe negative things, oh, he's not putting very well or something like that, that's not really going to change me as a player. I've just got to do what I do, stick to my plan, stick to my routine, keep working hard, and if I can keep getting better in that process, I'm going to accomplish my goals.

Q. Last year you and Anthony and some other young guys really came into your own, won some titles like you said, and Tiger was on the sidelines. Did that have anything to do with it, or do you think you guys would have flourished in either case, or did it kind of open the door for some younger guys to feel confident?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, I've got to tell you, Tiger is pretty good, and we all know that. Did it make a difference? I don't know. Again, I can't control what other players do. If Tiger is in the field, I am not competing against Tiger, I'm competing against myself and the golf course. And if Tiger is not in the field, I've got to do exactly the same thing.
If I'm going to tee it up with Tiger on the final round of any tournament, yes, he's a very strong contender and you're probably going to have to play great to beat him. But at the same time, there's a lot of other players. I can't control what Tiger does, I can't control what the other players do, and once again, you've just got to be selfish, you've got to be focused on yourself and take it as it comes.
It would have been nice to win the golf tournaments with Tiger being in there, I'm not going to lie, just because Tiger is the No. 1 player in the world, and is probably getting closer to being the best player in the history of the game. But it doesn't really change things.

Q. What impresses you most about Kim's game?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: It sounds very solid when he hits it. It's simple, and if I had to say one thing, it's the sound he creates at impact, from a 9-iron to a 3-iron to a fairway wood, they just sound very solid.

Q. What did you think of the condition of the course?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: It's great. The golf course is in great shape. When I played this morning, I don't think they cut the greens just because there was a little frost there, so they were maybe a little bit -- they were still very quick, but maybe a little on the slow side from what we're going to get. So it's going to be interesting.
DOUG MILNE: Thanks for your time, and best of luck this week.

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