ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Camilo Villegas has been chasing a little white ball around and trying to get it into a hole long enough to know that only half the work is over at the RSM Classic and half is still to come. He’s taking a very pragmatic approach to chasing his first PGA Tour title since 2014.
“A lot of golf to be played,” he said. “We’ll do the same thing tomorrow, come out here, try to be free and just add them up at the end of the day.”
On Friday, the scorecard added up to 6-under 66 at the Plantation Course and combined with 6-under 64 a day earlier at the Seaside Course at Sea Island Resort, Villegas enters the weekend at 12-under 130 and two strokes behind 36-hole leader Robert Streb. For the 38-year-old Colombian native, it marks his career-low 36-hole score on Tour.
Bronson Burgoon, who made six birdies in a seven-hole stretch en route to 63 on Friday, played with Villegas and came away impressed with his performance.
“I tried to just get behind, do what he was doing,” Burgoon said. “He made it look pretty easy yesterday. Made a few putts today.”
It’s all the more remarkable given that it was just four months ago that Villegas’s daughter, Mia, lost her battle with cancerous tumors in her brain at the tender age of 22 months. Villegas and wife Maria have a wonderful attitude about life and are committed to making Mia’s legacy live on through their foundation, Mia’s Miracles.
Earlier this week, Villegas, who wears a rainbow ribbon on his hat when he plays in his daughter’s memory, spent time with sports psychologist Gio Valiante, author of “Fearless Golf,” and someone who he’s had a relationship with since his days at the University of Florida.
“It was perfect to have him,” Villegas said. “We spent some nice time, had a couple meals, talked some crap and a little bit of golf. Obviously, you know how it is with golf, it’s all about being free and I think he’s helped me to be a little more free these last couple days.”
Camilo and Maria Villegas lost their 22-month-old daughter, Mia, four months ago.
Now they are determined that Mia’s life will have meaning beyond her time spent on this earth.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) November 19, 2020
Villegas played his first 28 holes without a bogey, but it was how he played after the bogey that he was most proud of.
“I was patient in the middle of the round. I know I was playing good and I just didn’t take advantage of that 8th hole and 9th hole and 10th hole and then I made kind of a silly bogey on 11,” he said. “You start adding those and it’s two, three shots and you feel like you’re leaving some out there. At that point you’ve just got to be patient, know that you’re playing good.”
It all came together at the last hole, the par 5 at the Plantation Course, where he made eagle to cap off the round.
“I got a little lucky to be honest,” he said. “I pushed my drive, it bounced on the cart path. I only had 9-iron in so I was able to be a little more aggressive to a front pin that’s in a tough place with the way it was playing downwind.”
Can Villegas win one for Mia? It’s the type of story that would bring tears to the eyes of the biggest curmudgeon. Villegas, for one, said he feels his confidence building, but reiterated that he has a long way to go to Tour title No. 5.
“It’s not a two-day thing, it’s a process,” he said. “The swing feels good, the speed is better than it was and I’m pain free, so that’s good.”