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July 11 2013

5:59 PM

Chill Villegas hot with putter

Camilo Villegas reflects on his 64 in the first round of the John Deere Classic with Fred Albers from PGA TOUR Radio on PGATOUR.COM and SiriusXM.

By Craig DeVrieze, Special to PGATOUR.COM

SILVIS, Ill. – At the most comfortably cool John Deere Classic in recent memory, Camilo Villegas rode a “chill attitude” and a very hot putter to a 7-under first-round 64.

It matched the lowest score of a not-so-cool season for the three-time PGA TOUR winner and gave him a share of the early lead along with defending champion Zach Johnson.

“Made some great putts and just kept out of trouble,” said the 31-year-old native of Colombia, whose remarkable 4.315 strokes-gained-putting fed a round that included eight birdies and required just 26 putts. “I was very pleased with the way I handled myself out there. It was a nice, relaxed, chill attitude and I enjoyed every single bit of the round.”

Ranked 124th in the strokes-gained-putting for the year, Villegas particularly enjoyed the TPC Deere Run greens. He had a string of five straight one putts while reeling off birdies on four of five holes to start his back nine.

Second in the FedExCup standings with a pair of playoff  victories in 2008, Villegas hasn’t been quite so relaxed the past three years. He finished outside the top 100 in the FedExCup standings in both 2011 and 2012 and stands 102nd this year.

“It’s the game of golf,” he said of struggles. “It’s a messed up game. You make a little mistake here, a little mistake there, and the numbers just don’t add.

“I truly believe that sometimes we overanalyze. When guys start playing bad, they get calls. ‘I can help you.’ Then you’ve got the mental coach, the golf swing coach, you’ve got the physical trainer. You have all these people who have the answer, and nobody has the answer. It’s only you.”

That’s not to say Villegas has abandoned his own team of advisers. “I keep working at it,” he said. “I work hard with the team. But when it comes to playing, it’s just time to play.”

Easier said than done?

“Let me tell you, in this game everything is a lot easier said than done,” he said with a smirk.

That includes playing with a “chill attitude.”

“This job is great when you’re playing good,” he said. “It kicks your butt when you’re not performing. But you can kick your butt even harder when things are not going good. So I’m trying not to be that guy that kicks his butt a little bit harder, just enjoy every second of it.”

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