Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Camilo Villegas

Camilo Villegas was born in 7 January 1982. He is a Colombian professional golfer who plays on the PGA Tour and the European Tour. Villegas was born in Medellín, Colombia, and took up golf as a child. After several different National Junior Championships in Colombia in the ages between 8 and 15, at 16 he became the first player in Colombian golf history to win the Amateur's Grand Slam in the same year: The National Junior Championship (stroke play), the National Junior Championship (match play), the National Amateur Championship, and the Colombian Open in the amateur category. Then, in 2001, he became only the second player to win the Colombian Open as an amateur. His success in Colombian golf throughout the 1990s earned him the distinction of "Player of the Decade" issued by the Colombian Golf Federation. Villegas received an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where he played for coach Buddy Alexander's Florida Gators men's golf team in National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) competition from 2001 to 2004. As a freshman in 2001, Villegas was a member of the Gators' 2001 NCAA championship team. During his college golf career, he was a four-time All-American, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Freshman of the Year in 2001, and SEC Player of the Year in 2002 and 2004. Villegas graduated from Florida with a bachelor's degree in business administration in 2004.

Villegas is known for his commitment to physical fitness, and says his mentor and inspiration is golf icon Gary Player. They have just starred together in a new MasterCard "priceless" commercial. In the June 2006 issue of Golf Digest, he was named "the sexiest player on tour, Tiger Woods included." He has also gained notoriety for sporting flashy dress clothing by designer J. Lindeberg. An alumnus of the University of Florida, Villegas frequently visits the University of Florida golf course when he is spending time at his residence at Gainesville, Florida. Villegas began playing on the PGA Tour in 2004 and earned his PGA Tour card just prior to the 2006 season. He had a blistering start to his 2006 rookie year on tour, with two second place finishes and a third place (at The Players Championship) in his first nine events.

He missed making the 2006 Masters Tournament in his rookie year by a single position on the Official PGA Tour Money List (11th). However, he made his first Masters' appearance in 2007 by finishing in the top 40 of the Official PGA Tour Money List for 2006. He qualified for the 2008 Masters through his exceptional play during the inaugural FedEx Cup playoff system, that included an opening round 63 (8 under par) at the Deutsche Bank Championship and three straight top 10 finishes. He entered the FedEx Cup playoffs in 52nd place and improved to 28th place through his play in the first three events, thus qualifying for the 30-man field at The Tour Championship in Atlanta, Georgia, where he finished in the top 10 for the third straight week and finished 24th on the FedEx Cup points list. Villegas won his second professional event at the Coca-Cola Tokai Classic on the Japan Golf Tour in September 2007. By doing so, he earned ¥24,000,000 (approximately $208,272). He shot a score of 282 (-2) and defeated Toyokazu Fujishima in a playoff by draining a 20 foot putt on the winning hole.

In 2006 Camilo signed an endorsement deal with Red Bull, and has represented the energy drink company since then as their sole PGA Tour golf athlete. Villegas won his third professional event at the TELUS Skins Game in June 2008 where he defeated a field that included Greg Norman, Colin Montgomerie, Mike Weir and "Mr. Skins", Fred Couples. Villegas took six skins for $130,000 with a short birdie putt on the 14th hole, and then won an additional four skins for $100,000 in a playoff, which was decided with a closest-to-the-pin shootout from 130 yards out on the 18th hole. Villegas recorded a record-breaking second round in the 2008 Open Championship. He shot 65, which was the lowest score for any Open Championship second round at Royal Birkdale. He started off with two bogeys but ended with five consecutive birdies which put him at 5 under for his round. Villegas won his first PGA Tour title in September 2008, winning the BMW Championship by two shots over Dudley Hart. For the last 44 holes of the tournament, Villegas did not three putt, one-putting 27 of those last 44 holes. This victory took him to a career high of 18th in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Villegas followed his BMW Championship win with a victory in The Tour Championship. He beat Sergio García in a playoff, having trailed by five shots going into the final round. The win took Villegas to number seven in the Official World Golf Rankings and established him as the highest ranked golfer from South America. He finished the season 7th on the PGA Tour money list. In late 2008 Villegas joined the European Tour, making his first European Tour appearance at the 2008 HSBC Champions, the first tournament of the 2009 season. However he will continue to play predominately in the United States. He had no victories in 2009 but had five top-10 finishes and ended the season ranked 45th on the PGA Tour money list and in the top 30 of the European Tour's Race to Dubai. He has spent over 30 weeks in the top-10 of the Official World Golf Rankings since 2008. At the 2009 Chevron World Challenge, Villegas made a very rare albatross (double eagle) on a 568 yard par 5, firing a 262 yard second shot into the hole. In March 2010, Villegas earned his third victory on the PGA Tour, winning The Honda Classic by five strokes over Anthony Kim. Villegas' tremendous physical power allows him to drive the ball far away from the tee box, averaging 302.1 yards in the 2006 season. He also adapts a homemade putting routine: while he reads a putt, he crouches down parallel to the ground without touching it, extending his left leg back while balancing with his right leg and his putter to get a better view of the slope of the green. He is given the nickname "Hombre Araña" (Spiderman) for this posture.

Villegas was chipping up the slope to the 15th green when the ball twice rolled back toward him. The second time, Villegas walked over and casually swatted away some loose pieces of grass in front of the divot as the ball was still moving down the slope. That is a violation of Rule 23-1 that says, "When a ball is in motion, a loose impediment that might influence the movement of the ball must not be removed." The penalty is two shots. Villegas opened with a 72, and he was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. White found a decision in the rules that allowed for no penalty if the player did not realize the ball would wind up where the loose impediment was removed. That didn't apply in this case because the ball was clearly coming down the steep slope toward his divot.

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