NEW YORK (AP) — Camilo Villegas works hard, sets goals and stays organized so he can manage his time. Those are good attributes for any PGA Tour player.
But that’s what it took for him just to survive college.
Villegas struggled with his English when he left Colombia to attend the University of Florida, where he found himself in classrooms with as many as 300 students. He could understand better than he could speak, and reading took time.
But he graduated in 2004 with a degree in business and a GPA of 3.8.
“Reading, it was very slow, but it was good,” Villegas said. “When you have classes with 300, 400 students, I didn’t see the point of showing up. I just got my book, I read it, and I went and took the test. It took time, and obviously coming to Florida and having all those new opportunities was a little overwhelming.
“But you have to just really manage your time, have a good plan for every day and stick to it.”
The hardest aspect of a new country was speaking, and Villegas said it didn’t help that he was shy. In golf terms, he decided to start firing at flags.
“One day I said, ‘You know what? Hell with it. I’m just going to open my mouth, and whatever comes out, comes out,”‘ he said. “If somebody is going to make fun of me, I’ll say, ‘Hey, instead of laughing at me, why don’t you tell me the correct way of saying it?’ And I got better.”
LOWERING THE BOOM-BOOM: The four-man field for the LG Skins Game was announced last week, and the biggest news was who would not be playing at Indian Wells over Thanksgiving weekend.
How can there be a Skins Game without Fred Couples?
Couples is playfully known as the “King of the Silly Season,” especially the Skins Game. He has played 14 times, captured 95 skins and earned over $4.2 million, more than he has made playing in the majors.
Instead, defending champion Stephen Ames will join Phil Mickelson, K.J. Choi and Rocco Mediate.
“I’m glad I’m not playing,” Couples said at the Deutsche Bank Championship, where he missed the cut. “I’m done with golf. I was feeling so good, but I think I’m playing too much. This may be my last real event.”
Couples did not express disappointment, but a tinge was evident. He said he was hopeful of playing again, but he was pleased for Choi and Mediate. And no, Couples did not ask for an exemption.
“I can’t be picked every year,” he said. “I played enough. And it was fun.”
PAYBACK: Mike Weir had to grind out a 67 in the third round of the Deutsche Bank Championship, go through a series of interviews that took about a half-hour, then get to the practice range to hit balls before sunset.
Time to go home?
Not quite. Weir then spent the next 30 minutes mingling with volunteers at the TPC Boston, setting an example that did not go unnoticed by Seth Waugh, the tournament host and CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas.
“Mike is a class act,” Waugh said. “That comes from his upbringing.”
But it wasn’t just Weir. A month before the tournament, Brandt Snedeker and Anthony Kim agreed to come to Boston for a media day. Neither of them were the defending champion. It helped that tournament officials arranged for Kim to take batting practice with the Red Sox.
MAJOR DUTY: Padraig Harrington came back to the TPC Boston on Sunday to clean out his locker after missing the cut when he found a stack of flags from the British Open and PGA Championship that someone wanted signed.
Without a hint of bother, Harrington sat down on a bench and began signing.
“Oh, good thing I opened this. It’s from Jim Furyk,” he said, reading a note inside from Furyk’s wife, Tabitha.
Someone watching him sign pointed out that this is what is asked of a guy who wins the British Open and PGA Championship.
Harrington then recalled a conversation with ’07 Masters champion Zach Johnson.
“If I ever say I’m tired of signing, someone please club me over the head with a 9-iron,” Harrington said. “And when I come to, explain to me what happened. And then I’ll happily continue to sign.”
DOUBLE DUTY: Jim “Bones” Mackay stays busy enough looking after Phil Mickelson. But the longtime caddie for the world’s No. 2 player was scrambling Saturday at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Mickelson played in the morning. Mackay’s brother, Tom, was to be married that evening in Vermont.
And he managed to be there for both.
“He had the option to take the day off, the week off, whatever he wanted,” Mickelson said. “But it shows what he’s like. He’s truly the best at what he does.”
Mackay got a huge break when Mickelson received the late-early draw, meaning he finished about 1 p.m. Saturday. He thought about chartering a helicopter, but learned it was even cheaper to charter a jet.
“We got to the wedding about 15 minutes before it started,” Mackay said.
He hired a driver to bring him back so he wouldn’t fall asleep on the way back to Boston. Mackay arrived back at his hotel about 3:30 a.m., got a few hours sleep and was back on the bag Sunday for an 8 a.m. tee time.
DIVOTS: Helen Alfredsson, Cristie Kerr and Natalie Gulbis will represent the LPGA Tour in the Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge, which will be held Nov. 11 at Rio Secco in Las Vegas. … The Monterey Institute of International Studies in California has offered its services to the LPGA Tour to design a custom language learning program for its international members. Not only does it offer a world-class language facility, the players have ample golf courses on which to practice along the Monterey Peninsula. … Fred Couples failed to make the cut in a major this year for the first time since his rookie season in 1981, when he wasn’t eligible for any of them.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Europe’s entire Ryder Cup team is in the top 50 of the world ranking. The United States has two players outside the top 50 — Chad Campbell (53) and J.B. Holmes (55).
FINAL WORD: “I’m tired of watching him on tape win all these tournaments. I want to see him win some tournaments live.” — Paul Azinger, on Tiger Woods missing the rest of the year.