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Is it Still Camilo Time?

May. 22, 2008     By     Comments (5)

Is Camilo Villegas' future still as bright as it once was?

Thrash TalkDuring the Florida Swing in early 2006, the majority of golf fans were introduced to Camilo Villegas. Villegas' flashy look and style took the golf world by storm. On top of that, his unique way of reading greens entertained the masses. The young Colombian had the look of a star, and he seemed to have the game to contend immediately.

After a great start to the 2006 PGA Tour season, Villegas struggled as the year progressed. Those struggles continued in the early parts of 2007, with the exception of an occasional strong finish here and there. He found his game the last month of the season and recorded three top-10 finishes in a row to end the season.

This year, it's been a mixed bag once again for Villegas. After quite a few mediocre finishes to start the season, he has a couple top-10 finishes in the past month (including a third-place finish this past weekend at Sugarloaf). With all the inconsistency, is Villegas still a relevant figure in the golf world? Also, does he have what it takes to get things right and become a multiple-time winner on the PGA Tour? Let's take a look.

Instant Impact
Camilo VillegasBefore talking about the present and future, it's important to look at the past. Camilo Villegas had a great college career at the University of Florida, but with very little college golf on television, it's harder to keep up with the amateur ranks. Like I mentioned above, most golf fans learned about Villegas in 2006, his third year as a professional.

In his first nine starts that season, the Colombian had three top-three finishes. He finished in a tie for second at Doral, an event won by Tiger Woods. Later that month, Villegas finished in a tie for third at The Players, one of the most prestigous events on the PGA Tour. It was obvious the young gun had come to compete, but did he come to win?

In early 2007, Villegas put himself in contention at The Honda Classic. He lost in a playoff and struggled for the majority of the season until the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Villegas, also known as Spiderman, finished in a tie for ninth at the Deutsche Bank Championship, a tie for seventh at the BMW Championship, and a tie for ninth at The Tour Championship. The strong finish to last season was impressive because the fields were great for each event.

Weekend Struggles
With Villegas' great 2007 finish behind him, it seemed as though 2008 would be his year. After finishing in a tie for 13th to open the season, Spiderman was pretty mediocre over the next couple months. Actually, he played well on Thursday and Friday, but he didn't carry that over to the weekend. As most fans know, there are a lot of guys who get off to a good start in tournaments. Weekend play is what separates the contenders from the pretenders.

For the most part, Villegas has been a pretender when it comes to playing great all four rounds of a tournament. In his second event of the season, the FBR Open, he started with rounds of 66 and 67. On the weekend, however, he fired two consecutive rounds of 73 to finish in a tie for 34th. A third-round 73 took him out of contention at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. Earlier this month at the Wachovia Championship, Villegas started with rounds of 69 and 70. He followed that with rounds of 77 and 75 on the weekend to finish in a tie for 55th. An even-par weekend would have put him right outside the top 10.

These are just a few of the instances over the past couple months where Camilo Villegas' weekend struggles cost him a lot of money. It's obvious after watching him this past weekend he is still a huge fan favorite every time he tees it up. And after watching him finish third, it's obvious he still has quite a bit of game as well. If he didn't shoot a 71 on moving day, he could have visited the winner's circle for the first time.

The Immediate Future
Camilo VillegasIt's hard to predict how Camilo Villegas will do in the near future, but he has all the tools to be a top-10 golfer. He can bomb it off the tee, and he has a ton of creativity around the greens. On top of that, he has the look that would greatly benefit the PGA Tour. He is as popular as any golfer in the world outside Tiger, Lefty, and possibly a few others.

Like I mentioned earlier, Villegas has two very strong finishes in the past month. Hopefully, another hot streak is on the horizon, and maybe this one will be longer and more consistent. If Spiderman keeps putting himself in contention, good things are going to happen. His play on Saturday and Sunday will have to improve, however. If it doesn't, his fans will eventually get bored with all the choke-job finishes (and as a Charles Howell III fan, I can tell you it gets tougher every year).

In the end, I do feel Villegas will make it to the winner's circle at some point in 2008. Whether or not he gets the job done in a strong-field event, that's a different story altogether. At this point, however, any win would be great for his mental state. After he picks up his first one, look out. There could be an entire boatload to follow. Villegas is one of the best talents on the PGA Tour, but it doesn't seem as though he knows just how good he is. Here's hoping he figures it out sooner rather than later.

The Final Say
This is a very crucial time in Camilo Villegas' career. It's not necessarily make or break, but it's pretty close. If he continues to play inconsistent over the next year or so, fans will move on to the next young hopeful. If he gets it together and starts winning on a consistent basis, he could possibly go down as one of the most popular and charismatic to ever play the PGA Tour. Think Arnold Palmer, only Colombian and more flexible.

It's your turn to tell me what you think. Is Camilo Villegas still relevant in the golf world? Is it too early to be talking about Villegas' weekend struggles? Finally, what do you think the immediate future holds for Spiderman? If you have anything to add, please comment or discuss it in the forum. Thanks for reading this week's Thrash Talk!

Photo Credits: © The Sand Trap .com.

Discussion

  1. Cruzin99 says:

    I don't know that Camillo has the mental toughness to compete at a high level on tour. I remember seeing him on a golf channel show last year and he basically spent the whole time cursing and talking about chicks as if he were still in college. I think he has a lot of growing up to do before he can get to the top of a leaderboard and stay there. Hopefully he can do that because it would be great for the game to have another popular personality that can compete with Tiger, Phil, etc.

  2. Golf_Junkie27 says:

    Cody, really good article. I started calling Camilo, "Jueves", (Thursday in Spanish) because he always seemed to start strong. I would see his name atop or near the top of the leaderboard. However, he was nowhere to be found come the weekend.

    Unlike great players, I don't believe he plays with a sense of urgency. Regardless of the sport, great players believe that "now" is most important. I don't believe Villegas has that. The talent is there, sure and so are the other "intangibles" that marketing people love. However, this game is about winning and execution. I don't see it with Camilo.

  3. goblue107501 says:

    I had the opportunity to play with Camilo in a Pro-Am when he was on the Nationwide Tour. By far, in the 4 or 5 that I have played in, he was the best pro and the nicest. I then follwed him all four days of the tournament and he would always come up and chat walking between holes or when there was a delay in play. He gave me a bunch of stuff after his round on Sunday from his car. I told him when I left that he had a fan for life. So ever since then I have tracked his progress in every tournament and watched when he was on TV.

    I think one thing to keep in mind about him is that he is still very young. He has let some opportunities slip away, but I think that is part of the growing process. I wouldn't give up on him yet. This is only his fourth full year as a pro. Once he gets that first win, maybe then he will gain all the confidence that he needs to be one of the top 10-20 guys on tour. He just isn't there yet.

    One thing that I have noticed after his good start in 2006 was that he is very selective in the tournaments he plays. He tends to only play in the top events which limits his chances for a win. I think if he were to play in 3 or 4 of the lesser events and get a win when all of the top guys aren't playing, he would be able to vault himself up to the top.

  4. Sutha says:

    Big Camilo fan, in tournaments he is good to watch, goes for his shots. Last year in the playoffs he seemed to be everywhere (some very good fields!). It has to be a mental or maturity thing, there are a number of young standouts who can't seem to get the job done, they've all got the games (so has everyone on the PGA tour) i just think mentally you need to be switched on and mature to play smart, tiger seems to play all the right shots, especially when in trouble, which is more often than you would think off the tee. I think the success (wins) will came for Camilo, and I agree that when the first comes more will follow. Hopefully another young gun in Aaron Baddely can build on his two tour wins, that kid can play!

  5. Paul says:

    I call him young and stupid for some of the shot selections he makes.

    The thing is there is little reason for a card holding PGA Tour player to perform at a high level. You can earn millions on the PGA Tour by just being in the top 10 a few times a year and in the top 25 the rest of the year and collect between 700,000 to 2 million.

    Now why would you make the extra effort?

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