GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Camilo Villegas never hated the game. There were definitely times in the last four-and-a-half years, though, when he didn't love it very much.
After all, this is a man who was ranked 12th in the world when he made the 2010 The Honda Classic his third PGA TOUR title. But when he came to the Wyndham Championship this week, Villegas had tumbled all the way to No. 254.
There had been that 2012 trip to Q-School, as well as a stretch of 73 events where Villegas only posted two top-10s. The determined Colombian never completely lost confidence, though, and Sunday his resolve was rewarded when he fired his second 63 of the week to win by one.
"You got to stay strong and keep working," Villegas said philosophically as he sat beside the big silver cup named the Sam Snead Trophy in tribute to the Wyndham Championship's eight-time winner.
"I've always done that. I've always been a hard worker and always kind of believed in myself, sometimes more than others and, again, just happy to be right here right next to this trophy."
Villegas, who shot a 29 on a front that included four birdies and an eagle, spent the final 50 minutes Sunday afternoon in the air-conditioned comfort of the scorer's trailer, waiting to see if Bill Haas, Freddie Jacobson or Nick Watney could force a playoff.
Jacobson, who arrived at the 18th tee tied with Villegas at 17 under, came the closest. His approach landed short and on the fringe. All the Swede needed was a two-putt par, but he sent his first putt 10 feet past the hole and couldn't make the save.
"Tough sometimes when you're watching it, you can't control (it)," Villegas said. "When the boys got closer to the last hole, you get a little anxious and, like I said, you don't have a golf club in your hand.
"Sometimes it's better to be on the golf course."
There have been times in the last few years, though, that Villegas was happier on one of his 100-mile bike rides than hitting balls on the range. In fact, he prepared for the Wyndham Championship by heading home to South America to visit his parents last week and ended up putting another 400 miles on those tires while the clubs were back home in Jupiter, Fla.
"But, you know what, it's funny because your mind tells you things and then the next day you do it all over again," Villegas said. "What I mean by that is yes, there's times you go like, 'Man, I hate this game. How much longer do I want to play the game? How much longer do I want to travel?'
"That's just you being silly because once again, you take two days off, you show up to the range, good attitude, keep practicing, keep grinding, show up to the tournament, hope you have a good week, work for a hard week, look at the trophy, want one of those in your house and, again, there's low spots but is that really you talking to you? I don't know."
The margin between success and failure is one Villegas knows all too well after his struggles over the last three years or so. His game was spot-on at Sedgefield, though, and if he can practice what he preaches and not be so hard on himself, Sunday's turnaround just might continue.
Villegas heads into the FedExCup Playoffs ranked 37th and likely safe for at least three of the four events after jumping 68 spots on Sunday. He's tasted Playoffs success in the past, too, finishing second in 2008 after two wins in the all-important final four.
"Beginning of the year I look at my caddie and I said, 'Big guy, I want to win on the PGA TOUR again,'" Villegas said. "It happened to be the last tournament of the regular season and so, yes, I've accomplished my primary goal this year.
"It feels great and I go to the Playoffs hopefully ... the same way I did this week and hopefully (I will) play some good golf."
SUNDAY'S BEST SOCIAL MEDIA
It's #FedExCup Playoffs time. Last 5 in: 121. James Hahn 122. Bryce Molder 123. Louis Oozthuizen 124. Morgan Hoffmann 125. Robert Allenby— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 18, 2014
How tight was the race to get into The Barclays? Robert Allenby (No. 125) finished with 438 points. Nicholas Thompson (No. 126) had 437.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 17, 2014
A good week for me when i had to have it. It feels good, but really wanted to win. Ready for #FedExCup Playoffs— Jhonattan Vegas (@JhonattanVegas) August 18, 2014
OFF TO THE RACES: Bill Haas heads into the FedExCup Playoffs, which he won in 2011, with momentum after finishing in a tie for second with Freddie Jacobson.
"Any time you have a good round on Sunday you take positives from it," said Haas, who moved from 35th to No. 24 in the FedExCup standings. "I'm looking forward to the next four weeks. Playing a lot of golf right now, try to get some rest and just see what happens."
Only Camilo Villegas, Sunday's champion, had a lower final round than the 32-year-old from South Carolina who went to college at nearby Wake Forest. Haas' 64 was bogey-free and had he converted that 33-footer on the 18th hole, he could have sent the tournament into a playoff for the second straight year.
The 18th, which is a 507-yard par 4, played as the toughest hole all week. After flying an 8-iron 180 yards and over the 16th green, though, Haas was wary -- "little bit of adrenaline," he acknowledged -- so he opted for a 9 on the final hole.
And came up short.
"I was a club off again, just a hair short and just not close enough to have a realistic chance," Haas said. "... Obviously I was trying to make it and (went) by four feet but disappointing. Hit a nice shot and not get it close."
The runner-up finish was Haas' fourth top-10 showing of the season. He was tied for first in greens in regulation and first in strokes-gained putting.
"I haven't had that many great finishes," said the five-time PGA TOUR champ. "To be in the hunt, 16, 17, 18 I felt like I hit quality shots under the gun and pressure and I'm proud of that.
"Take that into the next time I'm in that position and maybe I can hit some good shots and capitalize."
Camilo Villegas’ 63 leads to victory at Wyndham
HUMMIN' WITH HARMON: Brandt Snedeker's alliance with swing guru Butch Harmon continues to show results.
The two first starting working together before the U.S. Open, where Snedeker tied for ninth. He's had four top-15 finishes in seven starts since, including Sunday's tie for fifth.
"He's helped a lot," Snedeker said. "It's leaps and bounds in the time. I'm a lot more confident than I was. I have a great idea of what I need to do. I feel like my game is good enough to go against anybody in the world as long as I'm putting good."
Snedeker said the work the two are doing isn't a major overhaul.
"Just trying to get the way I work the golf ball a little differently than I was before, trying to get more through it, trying to let the club release a little differently than I used to be releasing," he explained. "Hitting the ball lower and further."
Harmon also works with Nick Watney, who tied for fifth with Snedeker and Webb Simpson on Sunday.
"It's unbelievable the track record with the guys helping them get better," Snedeker said. "He's great mentally, too. He's seen all, been through it all. Knows it all. A good help."
Speaking of help, Snedeker probably improved his chances of snagging one of Tom Watson's three Captain's Picks for the Ryder Cup. At the same time, though, he wasn't particularly pleased with the result.
"Didn't do what I expected to do today," Snedeker said. "I'm not happy with the way I played. I'm obviously playing better, playing in good form but you need to put yourself in a contention and win to impress the Captain. I didn't do that today. I need to go do that the next two weeks."
CALL OF THE DAY: Tom Werme calls Heath Slocum's eagle at No. 15 during the final round at Wyndham Championship
DRIVING DISTANCE Jhonattan Vegas
335 yards DRIVING ACCURACY Francesco Molinari 13 of 14
370 yards GREENS IN REGULATION Scott Piercy
16 of 18
Bill Haas +3.198 LONGEST PUTT Wes Roach
53 feet, 9 inches TOTAL BIRDIES Sang-Moon Bae
7 BOGEY-FREE ROUNDS Brice Garnett, Bill Haas, Camilo Villegas, Mark Wilson
LOWEST ROUND Camilo Villegas 63
EASIEST HOLE Par-5 No. 5
4.169 TOUGHEST HOLE Par-4 No. 18 4.403
THEY SAID IT
"I knew what was at stake and I pushed it a little bit. I thought it was in play, to be honest with you, kind of snuck up on me over there. Extremely disappointed. If you said at any point you birdie last hole you're in a playoff, you would take it. That was really a bad shot at a really bad time." --Nick Watney on his drive that went OB at the 18th hole.
"The goal was definitely to move on to next week which, mission accomplished. I feel front nine today I gave myself a good chance to win the golf tournament and kind of played poorly. But I'm just pleased to move on. FedExCup starts and anything can happen." --Jhonattan Vegas on his 66 and tie for eighth.
"Brandt and I both, we showed that our game is in good form and, you know, we got two more weeks to show them we're ready to play. Hopefully I can keep the play up for the remainder of the time that we have." --Webb Simpson on his and Brandt Snedeker's Ryder Cup chances.
"It really sucks when you play solid all day and you know, I really thought it was my day today coming in, just really starting to click with my swing, at least with my iron play so I felt like I've been giving myself a ton of chances this week and knowing I roll it pretty good, so I would have a good chance. Did just that but didn't catch my second shot from 18 from the down slope, caught it a little thin, didn't get enough height for getting up on the green. Actually a pretty accessible pin. All I needed was a solid strike to get up there and good feed in and have a good chance at winning." --Freddie Jacobson on his bogey at the 18th hole.
ODDS & ENDS
Bill Haas jumped from No. 35 to 24th in the FedExCup with his tie for second on Sunday. Haas, who won the FedExCup in 2011, has advanced to the Playoffs every year since its inception in 2007. ...
Camilo Villegas is the fourth international winner of the Wyndham Championship since the tournament moved to Sedgefield in 2008. His one-stroke victory snapped a winless drought of 116 events that began after he won the 2010 Honda Classic. ...
Heath Slocum's fourth-place finish was his first top-10 on the PGA TOUR since he won The McGladrey Classic in 2010. ...
Since 2009, Nick Watney has not missed a FedExCup Playoffs events. He'll start this year ranked No. 94. ...