PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – With tears dripping off his face, Camilo Villegas revealed Wednesday at TPC Sawgrass that his 20-month-old daughter has a brain tumor and tumors on her spine.
Villegas' daughter, Mia, was diagnosed in early March and is currently being treated, after an initial assist from Barbara Nicklaus, at the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami.
“This is not about feeling sorry for the Villegas family,” he said. “This is about sending the Villegas family good energy, support and inspiration. That’s what Mia has been doing for me the last couple of months.”
The 38-year-old Colombian said he first noticed something amiss the week of the Honda Classic. Mia was crying more than usual, even while playing around the house.
“I don’t know why, I just kind of got a bad feeling,” he said. “We did a scan and it wasn’t good, and that’s when our journey started.”
Mia underwent surgery and is now in her second round of chemotherapy. Villegas hoped to have more information on her prognosis in the next month or two.
“Hopefully, it’s just a bump in the road for her, and for us, and we’ll be celebrating that day that she’s clean,” he said.
A four-time PGA Tour winner who once climbed as high as No. 7 in the world ranking, Villegas is playing this week at the Korn Ferry Challenge on a major medical extension. He’s been battling a shoulder injury that sidelined him for nearly two years, but he showed a return to form with a tie for fourth earlier this year at the Bogota Championship.
Villegas said he hasn’t played much since Mia was diagnosed. His family encouraged him to play this week – his brother, Manuel, is on his bag – and he hoped to draw inspiration from Mia’s fight.
“I don’t know what to expect,” he said. “I don’t really know what I want for now. I just want to be there for Mia and support her. ...
“Whenever I feel emotionally ready, I’ll come back and play. This week is just a drive up, be with my brother, get my mind away, see people, enjoy the game I love, and go back to Mia next week.”