Honda Classic Interview: Camilo Villegas

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February 28, 2013

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MARK STEVENS: Like to welcome Camilo Villegas. Camilo, you got to 6‑under with an impressive eagle at the last. If you want to talk about your run at the end there and the round overall and then we'll have a few questions?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Sure. Obviously great score, good day, perfect conditions, we got a little bit away with the weather. I heard it was a little cold and a little more windy in the morning in other words guys, but we still have tomorrow, so I've got 6:50 tee time, hopefully it's not too cold. 

Front nine kind of slow, not much going on. Birdied No. 8, and then kind of back nine, started the same way. Parred 10, 11, 12 and then got hot. Made a great putt on 13, kind of a long one, after hitting my second shot from the rough, and then a good par on 14. I missed the green left, and a little tricky up‑and‑down, and got up‑and‑down. 

It's nice when you birdie 15 and 17, two tough par 3s. Again, we played them as easy as we are going to play them, a little bit downwind, not too hard. But I hit two good shots, two good putts, and then it's nice and special to finish with a 3 on the last. I had 263 to the hole, hit a great 3‑wood to about eight feet and rolled that one in.

Q. What did last year sort of do to your confidence level going into this year? 

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, obviously didn't help, I guess when you miss as many cuts and play and the results are the way they were last year, you just somehow got to be strong with the mind and keep grinding. Because, I mean, you know you belong out here, you know you're good enough, and you also understand that the game of golf is a game of ups and downs. You've just got to be strong on those downs and keep working hard. 

At times, it was tough. At times it was‑‑ it was tough to enjoy it, at times, but I've got to say, I've been working with Darren May at Bear's Club, and we have been doing a lot of great work. Enjoying my practice, spending a lot of time out there and trying to get better. It's good. It's good. You know, what you always learn from mistakes, and not that I made mistakes, I just played bad the last year and a half. It's a little reality check, nothing wrong with that. It gives you a little bite to come back and be who you know you can be.

Q. Why was the fun gone? Why were you doubting yourself? Sort of what happened with that. 

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Because this game is great when you're playing good, and when you're out here missing cut and missing cut, I don't care what people say, yes, we're blessed to have this job, but it's not that much fun. 

And that's what was going on. I'm not saying it wasn't fun; I mean, I'm very grateful to do what I do, but it wasn't as fun. It was‑‑ the game was kicking my butt a little bit. That's a good way to put it. But I know who I am. I know I belong out here. I know how good I can be; and therefore, that's why you're just going to keep your head up and keep working.

Q. What was the lowest point for you? 

CAMILO VILLEGAS: No, I don't know, we don't need to take it to that extreme. I wasn't having as much fun at times, but like I said, it's great to do what we do. I can't even remember a low, low point. I just didn't play as good as I did the years before. But guess what, I will; I'll be back.

Q. The other day I heard you tell the kids, one problem that you had with swaying when you did the clinic, do you have that under control today? 

CAMILO VILLEGAS: I did a clinic Tuesday afternoon with a lot of the kids and one of the questions was, hey, is there a good drill not to sway, and it was funny that the guy was actually an older guy who asked the question. I said, huh, I did that a little bit, and we work on that. 

Every time I get a little tense and there's a little bit of anxiety, I tend to move a little bit; I lose my posture a little bit before I start my swing. And that's something we've identified and that's something we constantly work, like a lot of other things, and yeah, it's just‑‑ I mean, I'm fine.

Q. You talk about knowing you belong out here from the early part of your career, did you get to the point where you kind of expect your expectations reached a certain level and maybe you took it for granted that you were going to keep going on an upper graph, so to speak?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Oh, never, I always knew how hard it was out here and I always keep it in mind. I understand that you have to work hard. It's no different than any other job. I mean, you want to be a Top‑10, Top‑20, Top‑30 golfer in the world, it's no different than trying to be a Top‑10, Top‑20, Top‑30 best architects in the world. It's not easy. There's a lot of competition out there.

You keep getting more and more young kids playing great, coming straight out of college and winning golf tournaments, and guess what, I know I'm still young, but I'm 31. I've been out here for eight years and it's kind of crazy to look at some of the guys that are playing and to think that, man, I'm ten years older than those guys. 

I remember when I first got on TOUR, and one of the questions you would ask your playing partners is, hey, how long have you been out here, and all of a sudden they would go like, 'I've been out here, seven or eight years,' and I'm like, man. And then you get the veterans that 'I've been out here 20 years.' Well, 20 years, guess what, that's my age, and they go quick. 

No, none of that; I always keep grinding and know how hard it is out here.

Q. You mentioned you had done some work, were you able to identify something that was holding you back last year? Were there some things that you particularly worked on that are starting to come together?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, it's golf and you're never perfect. You're always working on something. There's always room to get better. And as you're trying to get better, there's always going to be areas where you're going to just maybe take tiny steps back. 

So you have to approach them again, analyze, and keep going. It's just a circle that goes round and round. Yes, my swing got to the point where it could have got‑‑ it got to the point where I believe I could get a little bit better, and I did. I've been striking it pretty good. Same with my putting, same with my short game, everything. I mean, you're always working on stuff. You're never going to like, oh, my God, you know what, I am unbeatable right now.  

It's hard to get to that point out here, because you're starting against 144 or 156 guys every week, and guess what, those guys are good. You've just got to keep working, keep working on every area and keep trying to get better.

Q. You got a win here and you had another year in 2007 when you were in the playoff; what about this course seems to be right for you? 

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, it's a tough golf course, and I like tough golf courses. It's in great shape. It gets windy, which I enjoy, and I get a lot of support around here. It's not only the golf course, but guess what, I'm sleeping in my own bed. I've got mom and dad. I've got good home cooking. There's a lot of good things, a lot of good vibes around here, and maybe that has to do with my good play.

Q. You had a great round going when you got to 18, but still, there's risk, even with good conditions going for that green in two. Was that something from your previous experience, or were you just feeling pumped up or was there ever any question whether you would go for it? 

CAMILO VILLEGAS: I had a perfect number. I had a perfect number there. It was just a normal 3‑wood. I have a new 3‑wood in the bag which is feeling pretty good. My caddie said, where are you going to go with this one and I said, I'm looking straight at that flag, and I hit a great shot.

Q. What are your plans this year as far as your schedule? Are you looking to get exemptions? How many tournaments do you think you'll get into? 

CAMILO VILLEGAS: It's a good question. You know what, I've had great response from a lot of tournaments, and I have pretty much a full schedule. I've got to say thanks to all those sponsors, and they know who they are, that are giving me a chance to go play in the tournament. 

I've always valued sponsors a lot because I understand how much there is behind each tournament, and guess what, they are providing us with an opportunity to compete and to have a job. 

Again, we are just blessed to be out here and very grateful for that. Always try to treat sponsors as good as I can. Always try to say thanks. I think it's paying off, because they respect me, they value me, and they have showed that through a lot of opportunities to play this year, and it's on my side, it's on my side to play good and I'm going to get back on track.

Q. How much did lift, clean and place help today? 

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, I think it was a good call. It was fair, because you never know what's going to happen with the weather, especially two days in a row. And there was a lot of mud out there. We got some rain the last few days, and even though the golf course is in great conditions, once you start getting mud balls, luck comes into play, and I think the guys, the rules officials, try to take luck out of the equation and give everybody the same playing conditions.

Q. So a lot of your shots had mud on them?

CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, it would have been very different if we would have not been lift, clean and placing. Like I said, everybody had the same conditions and that's good. 

MARK STEVENS: Well, thanks for your time and good luck the rest of the week.

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