Colorful and Confident Villegas Ready to Win

By Alison PierceSeptember 10, 2005, 4:00 pm
You might recognize him. Youll definitely recognize his pants. His favorite pair, a subtle shade of traffic cone orange.
 
Camilo Villegas, born and raised in Medellin, Columbia, is one of the more colorful characters on the Nationwide Tour. Hes not afraid to get noticed. Hes not afraid to be himself. And hes not afraid to win.
 
Camilo Villegas
Camilo Villegas has six top-10 finishes thus far this season.
I grew up winning, says Villegas. Then I went to University [of Florida] and won eight tournaments. That tells me Im doing something right. Now as a pro, I won two Hooters events. I just havent had a chance yet on this tour.
 
Just one year out of college, Villegas swooped down on the Nationwide Tour as a Monday qualifier and since has lingered solidly in the center of the money list.
Hot out of the gates, he tied for second in his first Nationwide event at the BellSouth Panama Championship, but since has had his share of disappointments.
 
He held a share of the 54-hole lead at the Henrico County Open in Virginia but ultimately fell four shots short to Chad Collins. He bounced back to co-lead at the Rheem Classic in Arkansas, but again lost by 6 strokes to Chris Couchs final-round 60.
 
Thats tough to beat, shrugs Villegas.
 
But ever positive, he fiercely dedicates hours each day after his round to practice shots: We believe in ourselves, just be patient, keep trying, and keep working.
 
Camilo grew up playing golf with his dad in Columbia, where there are only 50 courses in the whole country. But thats more than Paraguay; it only has three courses, he says.
 
Golf is so small in Columbia, we dont have hardly any Columbian golfers, says Villegas. I feel so fortunate. It is such an amazing feeling to represent my country.
 
Medellin, for many people, is the capital of cocaine trafficking, Pablo Escobar and kidnappings.
 
There are social problems but nothing like people hear about on the news, says Villegas. People think that once I get off the plane, there is going to be a kidnapper waiting for me. People say, 'do you guys have cars there?' Its kind of funny what you hear.
 
Villegas just wishes he could get his fellow players down for a visit; they would fall in love with it, he insists.
 
At the root of Camilos strategy, and perhaps because of his cultural background, is an immovable belief that he will succeed. Its simply a matter of time and patience for this young hot-pants-wearing hot shot, who considers himself on the fast track to the PGA Tour.
 
Golf Channel analyst and PGA Tour winner Curt Byrum has kept an eye on Villegas all year. Byrum sees a self-taught feel player with amazing ball-striking ability, unique from the cookie-cutter players in the rest of the field.
 
I think he looks at himself, and believes deep down that hes good enough to play on the PGA Tour,' Byrum says.
 
Villegas got a taste of the big tour when he played in the U.S. Open last year, and he whole-heartedly agrees with Byrum. It may sound cocky but if youre not out here to win, why are you playing? says Villegas.
 
For University of Florida head coach Buddy Alexander, Villegas wasnt immediately a stand out. When he started the Florida golf program he was small, short off the tee and nothing special.
 
What I learned about Camilo was that he was the most dedicated, the most disciplined player that I have had in 25 years of coaching, says Alexander. He identified his weaknesses, he made himself stronger and bigger. He is one of the most competitive people Ive met in my life, whether it be in the class room or on the golf course or on a motor scooter.
 
According to Alexander, Camilos success will depend on how well he putts and above all, how he controls his emotions. Many see Villegas as a strong mental player who doesnt seem to be bothered by the little things, like the oft-missed 4-foot putts.
 
I think there are definitely things that get to him. His failures, or what he perceives as his failures, bother the hell out of him, says Alexander. That ultimately will be the factor in his success. Hes a perfectionist, make no mistake about it. That could be the one thing that drives him crazy.
 
Byrum noticed it as well: The thing thats holding him back is his poor putting when it really matters. He could have won twice this year if he had putted on Sunday.
 
Villegas retorts that he has worked hard on his putting and is not missing those short putts anymore.
 
And the media just needs to get over it. I look at my stats and I do need to improve my putting but the number of putts doesnt concern me. I just want to keep rolling putts and keep being patient,' he says.
 
Regardless of his battle with the game, Villegas is incredibly entertaining to watch. Whether its the Columbian crouch, where he practically lays on the ground to line up a putt, or his animated reactions to shots, good or bad.
 
Everybody loves Camilo, says Alexander. Theres a lot of little boy in Camilo. Hes mischievous, enjoys himself at appropriate times, he has a terrific sense of humor, likes to laugh and laughs all the time.
 
And what about the pants?
 
It makes packing fun! claims Villegas.
 
I dont think I ever show up to the golf course without a comment. If I wear black and black then Im too conservative; if I wear bright orange and yellow Im too loud, he laughs. Today I was wearing white and khaki, my caddie says I dont know how to find you with white and khaki. It makes things fun.

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

LPGA:

We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm