Camilo Villegas had two home games last week. He helped host a
Nationwide tour event in Bogota, Colombia, his native country, and
was there for the pro-am. Then he flew to his U.S. home, in Jupiter,
Fla., and from there he made the 15-minute commute to the Honda
Classic, which he won by five shots with a solid two-under Sunday 68, earning
himself $1,008,000. Meanwhile his kid brother, Manuel, played in the Colombia
event, closed with a 67 and earned $9,900 for his 15th-place finish.
In the annals of weird golfing coincidences, it’s up there. (Or maybe, like
Freud, you don’t believe in coincidences.) No, it doesn’t hold a candle to Ben
Crenshaw burying his mentor, Harvey Penick, then flying to Augusta and
winning the 1995 Masters. But it’s probably up there with Bob Duval winning
on the senior tour the same week his son David took the Players in 1999.
Camilo, with a body he stole from Sugar Ray Leonard circa 1980, is a tough
one to figure out, as a golfer and a person. He has won three Tour events but
hasn’t contended in a major, and Vijay Singh, for one, isn’t ready to say that he’s about to. “I don’t know,” Singh said on Sunday. “We’ll have to wait and see.”
Villegas speaks English in complete, elaborate sentences, and in victory he spoke with passion
about his homeland and his hope that visiting Nationwide players will leave Colombia with a new impression of the country best known to Americans for its drug wars. If you watch him play and listen to him speak, it’s clear that he’s intelligent and hardworking and driven.
But he can be a prima donna, too. He’ll blow off reporters he doesn’t have time for. At the 2007 British Open he was railing at his agent in the Carnoustie locker room about one thing or another, concluding with, “And these pants — they suck!” Gary Player and Lee Trevino and other Hall of Famers have had the
same move, without being saddled with Golf Digest’s designation as the sexiest player on Tour. It must be a burden. Still, Villegas is only 28. He’s growing up in front of us. What he did last week was certainly impressive.
The event in Colombia was won by a former Ryder Cupper, Steve Pate. Years ago, as a regular on the big Tour, Pate was nicknamed the Volcano. He had one of golf’s greatest tempers. It was a pleasure: You knew what you were going to get with Pate. Alas, he turns 50 next year, and the passing years have calmed him
down. There were some long gaps, but Pate grew up in front of us too.