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March 4, 2009

Camilo Villegas


DOUG MILNE: Camilo, thanks for joining us for a few minutes here prior to the start of the 2009 Honda Classic. You come here with a string of Top-10s under your belt in your past two events, T-9, and T-3 prior to that in the Buick. So you're obviously playing well. Just some thoughts on the state of your game as you head into the week here.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, getting started with the year and feeling good. I've been working hard. Swing feels like it's coming along, and it's golf. I mean, you're always working on little things.
But excited to be here, excited to be sleeping in my own bed every night, and we'll try to make it a special week.

Q. You came close to winning here; how important was that that week, playing well, getting in the playoff, and did it lead to -- you won twice last year. But do you remember that year, was that a big deal? Was it a step for you?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, every time you have a chance to win a golf tournament, that's a big deal. That's why we are here, just try to put ourselves in that position and test our nerves, test our composure, test our emotions and try to pull it off as often as we can.
So unfortunately I didn't win that tournament, but it was a good week, a special week, and you learn from every experience.

Q. Was there frustration that made you even better that you came so close?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Media loves that word, 'frustration,' huh? Not really. I was very excited about it.
You're always trying to do good. You're always trying to win tournaments. But you guys have to remember, there's a process to everything and you have to take it one step at a time and sometimes it's half a dozen and you have to remember we are playing against the best players in the world. It is what it is.

Q. I wanted to ask you about playing the 18th hole here, it's one of the longest ones on TOUR, it kind of gets overshadowed by the Bear Traps.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yes, I think we should play from the front tee. It's a lot better hole from the front tee.

Q. Can you just talk about, is that a difficult hole? I know some guys with the wind, if the wind isn't blowing in your face, might you be tempted to go for it in two, and Mark Wilson said he's seen you get on the green in two; is that a temptation?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I remember getting there a couple of years ago, but it's going to be blowing so hard downwind. That's why when you were talking, I said we should play the front tee. It's a lot better hole from the up tee.
From back there, you're just trying to hit it wherever pretty much, and then you can't see anything. You can't see your lay-up area. Again, let's leave it at that. It's a lot better from the front tee.

Q. A lot of people think you are among the most fit guys out here on this TOUR. I wonder if you can talk a little bit about what your daily routine is the week of a golf tournament, before you play and the day you play?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, depends. Depends how I'm feeling. Depends what I'm trying to accomplish. I get that question asked a lot. I guess I need to sit down and talk for 30 minutes, an hour, to make it clear.
I enjoy being fit. I enjoy taking care of my body. I think it's important for what I do. I think it's important even for the mental side of the game. I just try to be consistent.

Q. What, other than your position on the leaderboard, was different between the times that you came in runner-up and when you finally broke through at the end of last year?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, again, there's a process. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it doesn't. You work hard to win golf tournaments, and you can only control what you do. You can't really control what the other players are doing.
I believe I've accomplished my goals of trying to get better every year, and a little bit of that, a little bit of luck, a little bit of everything just falls in place and you end up up top.

Q. You've played well here, you've played well at Doral with huge following and you moved here; how comfortable are you in South Florida and with these two tournaments?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, come tomorrow morning, we all start from the same position. You've got to work hard. You've got to just be committed. You've got to have good targets, put aggressive swings, and forget what's happened in the past.
Just be in the present and take it as it comes.

Q. Are these two tournaments that you look forward to?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I like Florida. I've been here for eight years. Like I said, it feels good sleeping in my own bed this week, and Doral was very, very special for me my rookie year, being able to come runner-up, it was just a special week. I have great memories about the tournament, and when that happens, you look forward to going to those places again and again.
It doesn't mean I'm going to play great this week. It doesn't mean I'm going to play great next week. Who knows? Again, that's why I've just got to be in the present and take care of each shot at a time.

Q. In Miami, you're something of a rock star. Do you enjoy all of that and all that goes with it?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I've got to say that the media and the fans have been very, very good with me. That's nice. It feels good.
At the same time, I've got to say that it's work. It's a job and it's part of a routine. Just like you have your pre-shot routine where you're going to hit a shot, you get there, you hit your shot.
Same thing this year. I've said it before. Why am I here? It's part of the job and it's part of the routine. Why do you sign autographs? Do you really enjoy signing 200 autographs? Let me tell you, it can get to you, but it's part of the job. The fans have been good to me. The media has been great to me. I try to be good to them.

Q. You played well in all of the majors last year except the Masters, which people thought you would play well, being a long hitter. What do you remember about your first Masters and why you didn't play better?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Hopefully I have some good memories after this year's Masters.

Q. But how did you take to the greens there?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: The greens are quick. We all know that.
And it's a beautiful place. I'm really looking forward to go there this year.

Q. You spoke about physically the kind of shape that you have to be in to play this game, and basically to stay on top of your game. A guy like Erik Compton who has had a heart transplant and on all of these medications, can you talk about what it must be like? I mean, think about how perfect form you are and what it must be like for him?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Erik is a friend of mine and I've had a chance to talk with him many times. I've seen him after his surgery and I've talked with him. It's tough. You've got to tip your hat for him and what he's gone through.
I've been very fortunate in terms of my health, and that's why I will continue to try to eat healthy and just work out and stay fit and prevent injury.
But you never know which way it's going to go. So you've just got to knock-on-wood, and hope the best comes.
And to Erik, he's been through some tough times. I will always try to support him and be right next to him as a friend.

Q. I believe Sergio is another guy you've gotten to know pretty well. Can you talk about his achievement in reaching No. 2 in the rankings in the world and whether you look for him to have a big year this year?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: He's a great player. You always expect Serg to have a good year. Yes, we have become good friends.
It's funny enough, we were chatting last year before, I think it was at Wachovia, and I just kind of giving hem a little kick in the butt and telling him, "Listen, man, you're better than you're playing," as a friend.
He kind of looked at me and said you know what, you're right, and a couple weeks later, or the next week it was, he goes and wins THE PLAYERS, and has a great playoff, four weeks, and then goes and wins in China and becomes No. 2 in the world. So he looks at me now and he goes: You know what, you're right about that, I am good and I need to keep working and continue to be good.

Q. Do you think he's underachieved in the sense that he still doesn't have that major?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I wouldn't say that. I mean, how old is Serg, 29? He will win a major. Maybe the media just putts it aside and let's him play those weeks.
He's No. 2 in the world. How can you underachieve being No. 2 in the world? We have one guy up there that makes us look like crap, and he's just so good. (Laughter) And it's fun to follow him and learn from him and be part of golf when he's playing.
But No. 2 in the world, I'll take it any day.

Q. What were you seeing in Sergio at that time that caused you to give him that little kick in the butt, to use your words?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: You know, one thing is being inside the ropes, and another thing is just dealing with all of the stuff that surrounds us, and trust me, it's a lot harder than people think.
It's not only getting on a plane, staying in a hotel and go hitting a golf ball. There is a lot of distractions around. And not that Sergio was getting distracted, but I felt he was getting bothered by tiny little things that shouldn't be getting in his way. And it happens to me, too, and it happens to all of the other players.
Again, as a friend, I just said, Listen, buddy, come on, just forget about all of the little things that are happening. Just stop complaining and crying for little things and just play golf. I think he took it in the right way and played great from there on.
I wouldn't say it's a solution to poor play, because he's never been a poor player, but he did play great after that, and good for him.

Q. Has anybody ever done that to you? Has he ever done that to you?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, you know what, he's given me a lot of advice, too. Like I said, we've become good friends, and that's why we are there. At the end of the day, he beats me in a tournament and we can go have dinner that same night; and then I go and beat him the next week, and then we can just go and have dinner that same night. Obviously one guy is going to be more happy than the other. That's kind of the way it is with Serg with me.

Q. Speaking of advice, did Greg Norman give you anything in particular you remember when you played with him in the Shootout?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: It was a fun week. Obviously former No. 1 player in the world for many weeks, an example for everybody in the game.
I tried picking his head. I asked him a lot of questions and he had some interesting answers. And that was very special just to kind of learn little things from him.

Q. Anything in particular you could share with us?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: We talked about a lot. We talked about a lot of things. It was a lot of good advice, I can tell you that.

Q. You like to ride the bike now, right?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, I know, you guys are cutting into my riding time (looking at watch). (Laughter)
Q. What's the longest ride you've ever had in South Florida and do people ever recognize you?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: About 120 miles.

Q. Do you ever get recognized?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I have a great group of people. Hopefully some will come out and watch this week. Sunday ride, we were probably more than a hundred guys, big pack. It's fun. I enjoy it.

Q. So you blend in in the pack?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I try to be near the front, it's a little more safe up there. You have to pedal harder but it's a little more safe.
DOUG MILNE: Camilo, we appreciate your time and best of luck this week.

End of FastScripts

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