Gators in pro golf: Villegas has new attitude

Camilo Villegas
Camilo Villegas

Camilo Villegas, of Colombia, gets down low to lineup a putt on the 8th hole during the second round of the Accenture Match Play Championship golf tournament Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010, in Marana, Ariz.

Nam Y. Huh/The Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 12:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 12:12 p.m.

Camilo Villegas missed a 3-foot putt that would have ended his semifinal match against Paul Casey. They returned in the morning, and Villegas essentially handed Casey the match by hooking his tee shot into the desert.

“If I continue to do what I’m doing, the rest of the year is going to be a good year for me,” said Villegas, a former standout at the University of Florida.

He wasn’t talking about the putt. Or the tee shot.

Walking toward the clubhouse just minutes after a devastating loss, Villegas was talking about his attitude. No one is chatty after losing in match play, especially so late in the tournament. The 28-year-old Colombian, however, is determined to show more perspective.

“With this game, you can go all the way back to my rookie year,” Villegas said. “I got out here and you have nothing to lose. Man, I’m on the PGA Tour. You’re so excited. New tournaments, new golf courses. Five years later, I got to No. 7 in the world, you get a lot more attention, you have a lot more people around you ... your mind can get away from the game. Little things can frustrate you.”

Villegas won the final two FedEx Cup playoff events in 2008, but went without a victory last year.

He is determined to change that, starting with his outlook.

“I’m playing golf for a living,” he said. “A million people would give whatever to be here. I’m feeling more appreciative of what I’m doing. This week, I’m having fun. I have nothing to lose.”

He returned that afternoon for a consolation match and beat Sergio Garcia, 5 and 4.

— The Associated Press

Former Florida All-American Billy Horschel’s first season on the PGA Tour has been cut short by a tendon injury to his left wrist that will require surgery.

Horschel said Tuesday night that the wrist first starting bothering him while he was at qualifying school trying to earn his PGA card. He had a shot for the injury in December and it started feeling better but the pain continued several weeks later.

Horschel saw a hand specialist in New York last week who has worked with several other PGA players.

The tendon kept popping out of place and the surgery will be to stabilize it. The PGA will grant him a medical exemption so he will be able to return to the tour in 2011.

“I’m not shocked,’’ he told Florida Today. “It happens. . . . It’s the nature of sports in general. You get hurt, you have to take time off to get better.’’

Horschel was able to compete in four events but dropped out of last week’s competition when it became obvious the wrist was too painful to compete with.

“I haven’t been 100 percent in a long time,’’ he said.

— Florida Today

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