Former UF standout Villegas loses 22-month-old daughter Mia after four-month illness

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Former UF golfer Camilo Villegas. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

By Garry Smits/Florida Times-Union

The daughter of four-time PGA Tour winner Camilo Villegas died Sunday at a Miami hospital at 22 months old from tumors on her brain and spine.

Mia Villegas was taken to the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami on March 14 after Villegas and his wife Maria noticed the couple’s only child was no longer as active as before and had been crying at night. After scans, the tumors were discovered.

Surgery was unsuccessful, as was chemotherapy.

“The PGA Tour is deeply saddened having lost a member of our family, Mia Villegas,” commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement released on Monday. “We grieve with Camilo and Maria and our thoughts and prayers are with the Villegas family.”

Villegas first publicly talked about his daughter’s battle on June 10 at the TPC Sawgrass, the day before he played in the Korn Ferry Challenge.

“She always went to the gym with me; it was one of our bonding spots,” he said during an emotional news conference. “She was always like a little monkey, climbing on everything. But then one day, I noticed she had not been climbing on anything. She had also been crying a little more than normal at night. She had been teething, so we took her to the pediatrician, thinking it was that.”

He said at the time that the family was hopeful.

“My wife has been very, very strong,” he said. “But, at the same time, I’ve also known that there is no option other than to be strong. You can either be strong or you can give up. I do not want anyone to feel sad for the Villegas family. This is our reality and all I want is to receive the good energy.”

Villegas has not played since finishing tying for 33rd at the Valley. His last PGA Tour victory was in 2014 at the Wyndham Championship.

A native of Colombia, Villegas, 38, was a two-time Southeastern Conference player of the year for the Florida Gators, and helped the team win the 2001 national championship. He was an All-American all four years he played at the school (2001-04).