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January 19 2012

11:08 PM

Villegas comfortable with belly putter

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Count Camilo Villegas among the latest belly putter converts.

He has been playing with the long putter for the last five events, starting with the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia where he tied for fourth.

Villegas The putter performed particularly well on Thursday in its PGA TOUR debut as Villegas used just 24 putts to seize a share of the lead at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. He's tied with David Toms after a 63 on the Nicklaus Course, one shot ahead of Ted Potter Jr., Sang-moon Bae and Brandt Snedeker.

Villegas didn't go to the long putter on a whim, though. He's been practicing with it since 2008 because he feels that it helps his technique with the shorter model.

"The only thing I told myself is, hey, listen, if I'm going to put it in play, I'm going to practice with it -- a lot -- for about a month, then put it in play," Villegas said.

"I think a lot of guys make a mistake here where they just grab a belly putter, it feels great for 5-10 minutes and they go with it. Then they miss a couple of putts and it goes to your head and they go, whoa, what's this? Out. So I wanted to put it in play and keep it in play. It's good."

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