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November 8 2012

7:30 PM

Plenty to smile about again for Villegas

Interview: Camilo Villegas

Following an opening-round 65, Camilo Villegas reflects on his play in the 2012 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic with Bob Stevens from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After a fast start to his career that included two wins in his first three years on the PGA TOUR, Camilo Villegas went the next four with just one victory.

Worse yet, he came into this week’s season-ending Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic 150th on the money list -- he’d never finished lower than 77th -- and faced with the possibility that he could be without  card for next season.

Thursday, though, he shot a 65 on the Palm Golf Course to share second with Tommy Gainey.

It’s a major step in the right direction for Villegas, who over the last month has played some of his best golf of the season with three finishes in the top 30. Now, he’s looking to take it a step further.

“I beat myself a little bit too much sometimes,” Villegas said. “When you beat yourself a little bit too much, there's little things that make you miserable.”

He had reason to be. After spending at one point more than 30 weeks in the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Villegas has plummeted to outside the top 200. And if he fails to finish in the top 150 on the money list, he’ll have to go through the second stage of q-school -- rather than straight to the final stage if he finishes between 126th and 150th.

In a place that dubs itself the happiest place on earth, however, Villegas had plenty to smile about after his opening round. He made eight birdies, including four in a row at one point, and just one bogey after missing just three greens in regulation. He also putted better than he has most of the season with nine one-putts Thursday. For the year, Villegas ranks 156th in strokes gained-putting.

”I just kept reminding myself how good life is,” said Villegas, who was well aware of his position on the money list coming into the week. “If you're good at this game, if you are out, you will be back in.

“There were a couple times where I just made certain decisions that I kind of knew I was wrong, and I was like, you know, what's going on. That's just not me. Again, why am I going to be miserable about certain little things? Because that's what happens when you're playing bad. The little things just get under your skin.”

Now Villegas’ biggest worry will be trying to hold onto the lead.

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