On Friday night of this year's U.S. Open, Camilo Villegas' mother, Luz Marina, called from Colombia to give her son a pat on the back. He'd spent two grueling days trading roundhouse rights with Oakmont Country Club, becoming the first Colombian to make a cut in a major. He stood 10 strokes off the lead.
"Congratulations, you did it!" she said.
"Are you [expletive] kidding me?" he replied. "I'm not here to make the cut. I'm here to win the thing, not finish 20th."
Oh, and tell Dad Happy Father's Day.
For the record, Villegas (pronounced "Bee-JAY-gus"), 25, loves his parents, Fernando and Luz Marina, the middle-class couple who raised their two sons in Colombia's mountainous, coffee-rich Aburra region. After all, they introduced their boys to golf in the soccer-mad country, which has only 50 courses. "It's just that I'm very competitive," he says three months later, his fluent English dipped in a Spanish accent. He sits in the golf course clubhouse at his alma mater, the University of Florida, Gainesville, on a stormy September afternoon. Rain rinses the window behind him. "It annoys me a little when people try to be positive when I don't play my best. I play to win. I'm like that. I'm like any other player. I'm never happy."
If any golfer has the right to be happy, it's the big-hitting, pin-hunting, four-time All- American from Medellin, Colombia, who's bagged 11 top-10s and $3.8 million in prize money in two seasons on Tour. As Villegas approaches year three, he says he's ready to win. He's ready to validate the adulation (he was voted one of People magazine's hottest bachelors), the groupies (they trail him like ducklings), the snug J.Lindeberg duds (if you wear pants of Robin's-egg blue, you'd better be good), and laurels from the likes of Johnny Miller, who paid the kid the ultimate on-air compliment: "He has all the shots. He reminds me of me."
So Villegas has the clothes, the girls, the charm. All he needs now is a win.
"I'm very competitive, and I want to win," he says. He leans forward and slides his callused hands on the table. In person, he resembles a middleweight boxer: 5'9", 160 tightly wound pounds, python biceps, ribs poking through his white T-shirt. Like Tiger Woods before him, Villegas has gone from scrawny to brawny, packing on 20-plus pounds of muscle. Unlike Woods, he has yet to become a complete player. And he knows it. "People talk about my putting, but I need to get better in many areas," says Villegas, who ranked no higher than 14th in any of 53 statistical Tour categories in 2007 (through Oct. 7). "This year, I worked hard to get better, and I'll keep working hard, keep preparing. I'm not playing to finish second or 10th. I hope [winning] happens quick, but you can't force it. I'm doing things my way, on my timetable."
Whether it's marathon weight-lifting sessions or arranging his clothes, Villegas has always done things his way, says his younger brother Manny, 22, a senior on the Florida golf team. "I call him 'Grandpa,' because he's very organized. Growing up, he'd get on me, tell me to put things away, like an old man. He numbers his socks. If he buys 10 pairs of white socks, he'll number each sock 1 to 10, because he wants the 1s with the 1s, the 2s with the 2s. He can't let a 7 get mixed up with a 3. He hangs his shirts in color-coordinated rows, with the hangers in the same directions. When he cooks dinner, he has to clean the pan before he eats what he cooks. [Laughs] He's weird like that."