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February 5, 2009

Camilo Villegas


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome the leader of the Buick Invitational, Camilo Villegas, after a sensational 63. Camilo, five 2s on the scorecard. If we can just get your comments on this great round.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, pretty fun day, obviously. Two chip-ins. That helps, one on No. 2 for eagle and then a nice one there on 17 to finish the round.
But even if you take the chip-ins out, I played pretty good. I mean, I drove it nicely. I hit some great shots and left myself some good opportunities. It's not easy to have a good short game on that golf course today. The greens are bumpy, and you've just got to be really committed to your line, and that's exactly what I did today.
JOHN BUSH: Would you take us through that start, birdie-eagle-birdie, I believe.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, I birdied the first one, 5-wood into that hole, par-5. I hit a beautiful chip that touched the hole but it still rolled about ten feet by and made it.
No. 2, I hit it where you're not supposed to hit it, which is a little bit right in that rough, but I got a little 63-degree, and I was able to hit that shot, and fortunately enough it went in the hole.
Then I hit a great shot on No. 3 about maybe four feet below the hole, then made that one. So 4-under after 3; that's obviously very motivating.
Then I made birdie on 6, which is a beautiful hole, straight down the hill. It was blowing hard. Practice round I hit 9-iron, today I hit 6-iron. I was just chipping a little 6-iron. Very fast putt down the hill, and it's one of those you just hit and beg that it stays on line, and it did.

Q. How far?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: That was about just over 15, a 15-footer.
Then I made a mistake on 7, but that's okay. I just hit it in the left rough and then I just did not want to be above the hole. I left it short and I thought it was fine. I chipped it just out to the right and missed the putt.
I came back with birdie on 10. I hit a beautiful drive on 10. I think I had about 50 yards to the pin and made birdie there.
Then birdie on 12, which is a tough hole. I hit a beautiful 6-iron I would say, a little bit in between 6 and 5, and I happened to hit a very solid low 6 that ended up maybe about four feet right of the hole.
14, par-5, birdied that one. I hit it in the right rough, then I hit it in the left rough, then I hit what I thought was a good little flop that bounced a little hard, and I made a really tough putt there, one of those putts you don't expect to make, turning big-time from right to left, just gaining speed toward the hole, and it caught the hole.

Q. How long was that?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: That was a long one. That was about 30 feet maybe, 25 or 30 feet.
Then I go to 15. I hit a nice drive. That hole was playing short, straight downwind today. I had 63 where I wanted to pitch it. I grabbed a 63 and it pitched really nicely about four feet fast the hole. That was a tricky one, quick putt.
17, I was between 7-iron and 6-iron, ended up going with the aggressive play and hit 7-iron. Just tried to turn it into the flag and I chunked it a little bit, got lucky it didn't go in the water, but it was an easy chip. I took the pin out and just hit a beautiful chip that went in.
Didn't birdie the last one, but that's okay.

Q. On 2 can you kind of give us an idea of the lie? Did you have to carry the bunker?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, the pin is on the right side, you have about maybe eight, nine yards to carry, and again, I had a decent lie. I grabbed a 63-degree, I just puffed it up in the air, and since I hit it I knew it was good, but I didn't see the ball go in. My caddie said, "It went in." Early in the round, not much of a reaction, you're kind of excited about it.

Q. About ten steps beyond the bunker you'd say?

Q. 50 yards roughly?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, I think it was like 47 yards where I wanted to pitch it.

Q. You know, that's where the media center was at the U.S. Open.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: (Laughing.) I know, this one is far now. It's not good when it's raining.

Q. Seems like you really like that new 63-degree wedge. Did you put that in your bag for the first time this week?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, Vokey did a great job. He does a great job with my wedges. I put it in play maybe the first playoff event last year, might have been the second one, and I love it. There's some shots that I couldn't hit before, and this one I can really nip it. Playing with the greens and with the rough that we've been playing on TOUR, it's obviously a good tool.
But again, you've got to take one club out. What do you take out? It happened to be that I took out the 4-iron and just got the 3-iron one degree weaker. I got my 5-iron one degree stronger and just tried to close that gap a little bit.

Q. You missed the cut in Phoenix last week and had a lovely 63 today. What was the biggest factor in turning things around?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, I wasn't very proud of the way I missed the cut last week. I think I played better than I scored. My short game wasn't very good, so I decided to show up early here and work hard on it. I spent a long time chipping at the TPI, at the Titleist Performance Institute, on Monday. We worked out also with my irons, just trying to get the right spin on all my clubs, and I think the work paid off.

Q. Could you tell us the story about the wrap on your thumb and the cactus and however that went down last week?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, that was interesting. Actually this is because of something else. I just got a little tiny cut here, so that's why I have this one.
But last week it happened, something I wasn't expecting at least. I'm very close to the cut line, 17th hole, I hit an awful driver, got lucky, it hits in the desert and just trickles out. I have 63 yards to the hole. Well, as my caddie is walking through the desert, the towel is hanging and catches a little cactus. Okay, perfect. I get there and I'm ready to hit and I grab the towel to clean my grip, and I go like this, and it just went straight in me. So I have about 10, 12, 15 little thorns or cactus, whatever things, and those things don't come out. So I'm just trying and trying, and it's about two minutes and I'm still going, and then I tried to grip it and I got more here.
All of a sudden this girl shows up, and she goes, "How about you try this?" She had a pair of tweezers, and I said, well, I wasn't expecting that one.
I hit a great shot after that, and like I said, I missed the putt and then went on to bogey the last one and missed the cut by one. But again, we're here, excited about my round today and looking forward to tomorrow.

Q. There was a girl in your gallery? Imagine that.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: It's the FBR. There's a lot of people out there (laughter).

Q. Playing the South Course tomorrow and weather supposedly coming, how imperative was it to go out and shoot a good round today on the North Course?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, I heard some of the guys this morning just complaining about, oh, I'm here, there, tomorrow there, I don't know what's going to happen with the weather. You know what, you've got to play both golf courses. The North Course is not playing that easy. I mean, the greens are bumpy, and I know the rough is a little patchy so you can get away with it with a little luck.
The South Course the rough is up. It's tough. It was very firm during the pro-am. I mean, if it rains a little, it's going to get softer, the rough is going to get a little more severe, too. Who knows, man. Just go out there and hit some shots.

Q. I don't think they put any water on the greens, anticipating stuff coming in this week. Did you notice that they were a little firmer in terms of the approach?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Definitely firmer than in years past. Let me tell you, that South Course yesterday during the pro-am was very interesting. I mean, I love the way they set it up for the U.S. Open, and where they had another cut, so it's playing pretty similar. If we don't get any rain, it's playing pretty similar in terms of toughness to the U.S. Open. I don't know how the scores are looking there this morning or today, but we'll see.

Q. Kind of off the point of today, but did you do anything frivolous with that big chunk of change you won last year, buy a boat, plane, airplane, the amount of money that you won in Atlanta?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Have you seen the way the economy is? You've got to save it, my friend.

Q. The last three times that Tiger has unable to defend his title was the BMW and the TOUR Championship and the Buick Invitational. Do you have anything going there?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I lost you. I heard something about defending and then --

Q. The last three times that Tiger could not return to defend his title was at the BMW and the TOUR Championship and the Buick Invitational.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: It's very early in the week. I mean, I've played one round. I played great today.

Q. But it's a funny coincidence.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I'm glad he's not here. He plays pretty good around here, I can tell you that. But he'll be fine. He'll come back healthy. At the same time I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward for him to come out here. The game of golf misses him. We'll see.

Q. Padraig was talking yesterday about kind of having to raise the bar of his game, which is tough to do after the year he had. How do you feel about raising the bar of your game given the end of the year that you had, and what are your expectations?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I love challenging myself and working hard to just accomplish goals. Winning at the end of the year was very gratifying. Man, it felt good. But at the same time, we all start from zero on Thursday. You can either stay at home, you can chill, you can relax, you can keep thinking about those wins, or you can start thinking about getting even better. I think I'll take the second part and just try to keep improving, keep working with all the guys, all the team that's behind me, and challenging myself.

Q. For those of us who are accustomed to seeing Tiger here, the crowds seem dramatically smaller. For the players, how is your life different when he's not around?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, I mean, we miss Tiger. The game of golf misses Tiger. Does it really affect the way I take every tournament? Does it really affect the way I handle myself during tournaments? Not really. I mean, I'm just trying to be myself. I'm trying to accomplish my own goals. I can't control what other players are doing, no matter if it's Tiger or Phil or Sergio or whoever. It's a game where you've got to be a little selfish and you're got to focus on yourself because that's all you can control. I can only control my emotions and my attitude, and that's what I do, even if Tiger is here or not here.

Q. How often do you get home to Colombia during the year?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I don't get home enough. I miss it. I try to go about four or five times.

Q. Are there certain patches during the year where you can get away for a few weeks once the season is going?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, you try. It's tough with the scheduling. This year I'm playing both tours. I'm playing here and I'm playing in Europe, so it's going to be a little busy. This is my first time. We'll see how that goes. I'm excited about it, though. We'll see whether we can find a little time to go home.
JOHN BUSH: Camilo, thanks for coming by. Play well the rest of the week.

End of FastScripts

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