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Camilo Villegas embarks on new chapter with broadcasting debut at Wyndham Championship

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Camilo Villegas embarks on new chapter with broadcasting debut at Wyndham Championship

    Written by Lisa Antonucci and Stephanie Royer @PGATOUR

    GREENSBORO, N.C. -- For Camilo Villegas, when it comes to making his broadcast debut this week at the Wyndham Championship, it boils down to one thing: Being himself.

    “The more I think about it, I think that preparation is just trying to be myself. I think that's the best strategy,” said the 41-year-old Villegas, a four-time PGA TOUR winner whose last career win came at the 2014 Wyndham.

    Villegas was approached by Golf Channel commentator Steve Sands in November about taking a trial run in the broadcast booth, and while his initial reaction was to decline, he said he quickly reconsidered.

    “The reason why they approached me is because of who I am and what I've done, and I can't change that,” he emphasized. “I'm gonna try to be myself. The second you’re not, people are gonna see straight through you, and they're gonna know that you're not being authentic. We'll have fun with it.

    “Obviously, it's a big challenge. It's something very new. I am a little nervous to go straight in the booth with Steve, not having done TV before or being in that spot. But I guess I won't be the only feeling it. There's a lot at stake this week with the top 70.”

    As for what that preparation looks like for Villegas, who admits he’s spent more time than normal watching golf, it also includes drawing on his 19 years of experience as a professional player.

    “I'm going to be in the booth as an analyst, but that's what I've done my whole life: I analyze the game of golf; I analyze every shot. I think about it,” he explained. “That's what players do out there when you're playing golf. And now I'm going to try to do it out loud.”

    The Colombian star said he’s been blown away by all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into producing a broadcast, describing it as “an art.” But he’s trying to keep expectations in check, knowing that he’s bound to make mistakes but seeing the experience as a new adventure.

    “You want to take a structured approach, so I've been thinking about that. But also, you just have to let it flow at the same time,” Villegas said. “I think that's when the best comes out, and hopefully the best comes out with nice flow on TV. That’s what we did as golfers: Anytime you let it flow and you got in that little zone on the golf course, that's when things went the best.”

    As for a definitive pivot to the broadcast booth, Villegas said his desire to still play competitively is what initially caused him to turn down Sands’ offer.

    “I told him I wasn't ready,” he said. “And then that's my ego talking, just saying, ‘You know what, I want to play golf.’”

    But his mindset has shifted since the death of his 22-month-old daughter Mia in July 2020 following a four-month battle with cancer.

    “The reality is that I am getting older,” he explained. “I'm 41, you don't see too many 40-somethings winning on the PGA TOUR. I have been struggling first with an injury and then trying to get back into top form. And your reaction is – because you know, they are seeing your career wind down a little bit – but your heart doesn't want it that way; you want to keep competing. So that's the reason why my reaction was the way it was.

    “But I gotta give credit to my agent (Clarke Jones) and (he) said, ‘If you never wanted to do TV, we’ll close this door, but I'm not in the business of closing doors. I'm in the business of opening doors,’ and hopefully that's what we're doing this week. Hopefully we're just opening doors for different opportunities.

    “Listen, 2020 was a tough year for me and my wife, losing our daughter,” he continued. “And after you go through experiences like that, you just kind of get a little bit more open-minded in terms of what's to come in life. You start seeing life a little bit different, and I see this situation a little bit like that: Just (being) open-minded and then we'll see what everything adds up.”

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