Camilo Villegas has been one of the most watched players on the PGA Tour for the last three years. He’s charismatic, unbelievably fit, and then there’s that Spiderman thing he does on the green. At 26, Villegas is one of the most promising of the “Young Guns.” He has tons of talent, but until two weeks ago he’d only been close and never sealed the deal. Some of us might have been thinking that he was having too much fun just being Camilo. I mean, beautiful women practically throw themselves in front of his errant drives just to meet him. I thought that he might have been more interested in the post-round activities than the round itself. And, no, I really couldn’t blame him if that was the case.
Villegas has been showing his drive to win this season. He’s made 19 cuts in 22 events, with seven top-ten finishes. He is in sixth place for scoring for the 2008 season. That’s sustaining good play.
So if you thought that Camilo came out of the blue to win the BMW and Tour Championships, here are nine things you may not have known about Spider Man.
Hole One: Major Promise?
Though he’s missed the cut in the Masters in each of the last two years, Villegas finished in the top ten in both the US Open (T9) and the PGA Championship (T4). Could 2009 be the year he adds a major to his (suddenly) two PGA Tour wins?
Hole Two: Second City
Villegas hails from Medellin, Colombia, a city that, unfortunately, makes most Americans think of the illicit cocaine trade. Medellin was the base of operations for Pablo Escobar, who became the seventh richest man in the world through the drug trade. He was killed by Colombian police in 1993. Today, kidnapping to fund revolution is a major problem. Villegas would be well advised to have a bodyguard, or several, when he returns home. Still, conditions have improved over the last 15 years for Colombia’s second largest city. Camilo has said that he hopes to help improve the world’s impression of his hometown. In a country that has only 50 golf courses, Camilo’s middle-class parents, Fernando and Luz Marina, still managed to introduce their sons to golf.
Hole Three: Turning Around the Playoffs
Villegas missed the cut at the first event of the 2008 FedExCup, and, overall, was winless on the PGA Tour through the second week of the playoffs. That soon changed. He broke through – twice – winning the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship in consecutive events. The wins propelled him from 17th to number seven in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Hole Four: Worldwide Wins
Before winning the BMW Championship, Camilo had three wins as a pro: the 2008 Telus World Skins Game (in Canada), the 2008 CVS Caremark Charity Classic (paired with Bubba Watson), and the 2007 Coca-Cola Tokai Classic (Japan Golf Tour).
Hole Five: El Hombre Arana
Despite having no wins prior to the BMW Championship this year, Camilo is a hot property on the Tour. If you ever wondered why they call him Spider Man, you can get a pretty good idea from his commercial.
Hole Six: Is Camilo an OCD Golfer?
According to his brother Manny, Camilo is hyper-organized. For example, he numbers his socks. If he buys a 10-pack of socks, he’ll write numbers on them so that he can wear the 1s together, the 2s together, and so on. He organizes his closet by color and all the hangers must face the same way. Sounds a little OCG to me.
Hole 7: (Nearly) Straight-A Gator
At the University of Florida, Villegas was a first-team All-American three times as a player, and an Academic All-American twice. He earned his business degree with a 3.8 average. Not bad for a guy who couldn’t speak English well when he began his collegiate career.
Hole 8: Close But No Cigar, er, Cup
Camilo Villegas ended up 552 points shy of $10 million. That sounds like a lot until you consider he finished at 124,550 to Vijay Singh’s 125,101. That’s after everyone thought the FedExCup would be a runaway. Well, it was, but it was a three-horse runaway (with Sergio Garcia). Singh was never in danger of losing the cup after winning the Deutsche Bank Championship, but no one expected it to be as close as it was. And certainly no one expected Villegas to wind up earning more money ($257,437 more) in the four tournaments than did Singh (not counting the $10 million bonus winning for the FedExCup).
Hole 9: Driving Ambition
He’s 5’9″ and 160 pounds, yet he averages over 293 yards a drive. If I got the same efficiency out of my weight, I’d be hitting drives over 360 yards with regularity. Clearly, I’m doing something wrong.