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November 19, 2009

Camilo Villegas


SCOTT CROCKETT: Camilo, thanks for coming in and joining us, and many congratulations on a good opening round at the Dubai World Championship. Just give us your thoughts on today. No bogeys on the card is always pleasing, but just give us your impressions of how it went out there.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I felt pretty comfortable out there. Hit the ball great. I avoided those cross-bunkers which are always trouble. They are so deep, sometimes you just get behind the 8-ball and you just can't do anything from there.
So I did a good job of that. Made some good putts for par, a couple of them, and even though I missed two or 3-putts inside eight feet for birdie, I think I managed to read the greens good and get good speed and post a good score.
SCOTT CROCKETT: You said on the television interview you've been doing a lot of work recently, but maybe your scores have not reflected it. But perhaps this is a sign that is now beginning to reflect the work that you've been doing.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I hope so. The last four or five weeks I've been working hard. This is a crazy game. Sometimes you get on those little stretches where things don't really go your way, but again, that's why we are here, to get better, to improve, to learn about ourselves, and work hard.
So that's exactly what I did, and hopefully it's the beginning of all that hard work.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Can you just give us the details of your six birdies before we take questions? You birdied the first. What did you do there?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I can barely remember the golf course. 1, I hit a nice drive there and then I hit I think it was a 7-iron to about 12, 15 feet and rolled it right in.
Then on 2, the par 5, I was a little aggressive with my second shot. I kind of went for it just behind the bunker. Had about 60 yards left and hit it to, I would say, five, six feet.
Par 57 drove it in the middle and hit a bad shot, actually to what they call it, the pine needles -- not pine needles; the mulch, that red stuff there, way in the sand I guess. But I hit it there and I hit a nice chip to about 12 feet and made that one.
10 I hit a nice tee shot, nice drive down the middle and then I hit a 9-iron to about eight feet.
16, I hit a beautiful shot. I played aggressive again. I hit driver over the centre bunker toward the right side, and hit 8-iron, I think it just kind of maybe just touched the pin, it was a gimmie there, which is always nice. Which he can check.
And then 17, I thinned a little bit my 8-iron but I left myself about an 18-footer straight up the hill and not much break on it, and I made it.

Q. You had a putt for the lead on the last; did you think you were going to make that one? It was makeable, wasn't it?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I was trying, I can tell you that. It was definitely makeable. I just hit it a little soft, but it's okay. Not really too concerned the fact that it was a putt for the lead.
I mean, it's so early in the tournament, there are so many things that can happen, there are so many guys still on the golf course. I can't control what they do. I can only control what I do. So I have to stick to trying to get good targets and hit good shots.

Q. I was going to ask you a supplementary question, yours first view of this course, what were your impressions of it?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: It's big, I can tell you that. Bunkers are big, greens are big, slopes are big, and golf course is long.
I think it played okay today. It blew a little bit, not too much. The greens are still receptive, so those when they tuck the pins, you can still kind of go at them. It's in good shape. There's not much rough. Fairways are a little wide, but we'll see.
I think by the end of the week we are going to have a better idea of how good the golf course is, and the way they set the pins, how the players play it, how the wind treats us, and how this scores reflect the golf course. But so far, I'm enjoying it.

Q. How have you found balancing the demands of playing on two tours, and are you going to continue doing that?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: It's been interesting. It's definitely harder than people think.
I mean, the good thing, not having a family, not having kids that you have to leave at home, I mean, that definitely makes it a lot easier. I don't understand how some guys that have kids are travelling around the entire world. I guess this is what we do for a living, but it's definitely harder than people think.
I'm enjoying it. It's not like I've played too many events. I think a total of, what, with this one, maybe 13 all together? Seven or eight count towards both tours.
But I was in Colombia, and then I took a plane overnight to Spain; I took a Spain overnight from Spain to China; I took a plane overnight from China to New Zealand; I took a plane overnight from New Zealand to Dubai; and I'm taking one overnight back home. If you think about it, that's one month, five nights spent on a plane.
So it's definitely something I still need to get used to it. Am I enjoying playing both tours? Yes. Great people, great places, great cultures, great tournaments. But it's tough.

Q. If I could just follow up briefly, does that mean you haven't decided yet whether you are going to play The European Tour as well as the PGA Tour next season?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: It looks like it. It all depends how the schedules come out. To be honest I saw the PGA Tour released their schedule. I don't believe The European Tour has released the schedule. Am I going to join? Yes. Am I going to be able to get my 12 events? I hope so.
So to answer your question, do I want to do it? Yes, I want to. Can I do it? We'll see when both schedules come out.

Q. I just wondered if there was a feeling amongst the top players this year that the gap to Tiger has closed a bit and there's more chances at majors than there have been?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: If Tiger wasn't here -- kidding. I can't control what he did. We know he's No. 1 in the world. He's been for a long time. We know he wins tournaments every year and he will continue to do that.
Yes, he didn't win a major this year, and that surprises a lot of people, but at the end of the day, he's still Tiger Woods. He's still the No. 1 player in the world and he's going to continue to win tournaments and he's going to continue to work hard to accomplish his goals. So can't control what he does. We've just got to keep working our butts off and try to improve.
Has the gap closed? I still think he's Player of the Year. I still think -- how many times did he win, eight?

Q. It will be?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: But he struggled, right? Didn't win majors. I'm kidding.
Again, we just keep working. We just keep focusing on ourselves and enjoy playing in Tiger Woods era. I mean, I enjoy it. He sets an example for us and for rest of the world. He's a very talented individual, and gets it done. So that's what we are trying to do.

Q. Have other PGA Tour players been asking you, what's The European Tour like, and asking with a view to doing it themselves?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, you get a couple of questions here and there. Trust me, my answers are always positive. Like I said, I've always wanted to play around the world, and I enjoy it. Coming here to Dubai, what an interesting place. China, man, it's the future of so many things. So many people, the golf is going to be huge there. It's already huge, but it's going to be huge in five, ten years.
Visit places like New Zealand, I really enjoyed going down there. Actually that wasn't a European Tour event but it was something else I did. Australia, great place, great golf courses. And then you get the British Open, Scottish Open; I have fun, and that's exactly what I tell the guys.

Q. And do you know of any others who are planning to join?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Again, it comes to waiting until schedules -- I don't know if any other new guys have, how do you say, paid their dues, or, how do you say it, try to become members. But it comes down to waiting on schedules and seeing if everything works out.

Q. Greg Norman was in yesterday talking that every ten or 15 years, a new wave of players comes through. He was talking about Ryo and he was talking about Rory McIlroy. Are you conscious of being part of that new wave, and can you see new rivalries building up over the next few years?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Look at the guys on The Race to Dubai, and there are a lot of young guys up there. Rory is an unbelievable player. Ryo is an unbelievable person, unbelievable player, and you just keep going. I mean, I could name guys and guys. You go back to the PGA Tour and you look at the Money List and the World Rankings and there's so many young guys who are up there. It's just a matter of time when guys start winning majors and young guys start winning majors, and just doing great things.
But I mean, we are playing The European Tour, we're playing the PGA Tour, we are playing against the best players in the world. There are guys that are 20 and can definitely play and there are guys that are 30 that can really play and there are guys that are 50 and can still compete at very, very high levels.

Q. How do you characterise your year? Did you expect more after the great finish last year?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: We're golfers, man. We always expect more. I've been okay with it. You know what, yes, I haven't won, and yes, it has not been as good as 2008. For a second or two there towards the middle, you kind of lose a little interest, attitude and you just stop getting those good results.
But it's the nature of sports. You have good times, bad times and average times. Do I think 2009 was a bad year? Not really. Can I sleep over it? Yes, I'm fine. I'll keep working hard, keep trying to put myself in positions to win golf tournaments and I'll be just fine.

Q. You said about how tough it is to do the whole two-tour thing. How tough will it be for a 20-year-old like Rory, just the fatigue factor?

Q. How tough will it be for a 20-year-old like Rory who is only in his second season? He's joined the PGA Tour, Rory McIlroy.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, I did hear that. Obviously Rory, he's a mature kid, great player and has a lot of -- is surrounded hopefully by good people who will give him great advice.
So is he going to be able to do it? I'm sure he'll be fine. Is it going to be tough? Yes, it's tough. There's a lot of travelling, and you've just got to be organised, man. You've got to take care of your time and really put your prioritise in order. But he'll be fine.

Q. I gather Abu Dhabi is on your agenda in January; does that indicate that you are going to play The Desert Swing, all three legs of it?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I haven't decided on exactly what's going to happen there at the beginning of the year. We are still working some things out, and we'll see.

Q. But you're going to play Abu Dhabi?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: We'll see. (Laughter).
SCOTT CROCKETT: Are we all done? I think we are. Camilo, thank you very much and good luck tomorrow.

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