Camilo Villegas of Colombia.- Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images/ PGA TOUR
Colombian Camilo Villegas broke a nine-year title drought in Bermuda recently and shares in this blog his life’s journey which includes the passing of his baby daughter, Mia in 2020 and why he has the words “attitude” and “positive energy” tattooed on his arms.
I enjoyed two very special weeks in November where I finished runner-up in the World Wide Technology Championship in Mexico and then went on to win the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. It’s been a real journey, and life is a journey where it goes up and down. You’ve got to go back to that Colombian kid who came to the U.S. with a dream, played college golf, played the Korn Ferry Tour in 2005 and then everything kicked off on the PGA TOUR and I managed to win a couple of FedExCup Playoffs events in 2008.
You would think that kid was on top of the world. And I was at a point in time. I was feeling pretty good from a performance point of view. But as I look at where I am now and everything that has happened, I believe I’m a better person. Maybe the results haven’t been there but this journey has been interesting. To lose my PGA TOUR card, to go through an injury, to lose my daughter in 2020, to create Mia’s Miracles (a charitable initiative to help others facing challenges), to go back to the Korn Ferry Tour, to keep grinding, to have doubts, to have fears, to have tears, have smiles – you just never know where life takes you.
Despite all the doubts, I never stopped waking up early, 5am, 5.30am, in the morning to do what I like to do because in all honesty, the cool thing about those two weeks is not so much the results but the process and what’s been behind those results. As much as I enjoy reflecting on my win and the energy that I have received from the world of golf and those outside of golf, trust me, it’s been unbelievable. I had 900 messages on my phone and I’m going to reply to all of them.
It’s unbelievable to be honest. You kind of stop believing after nine years of not winning but I never stopped waking up early and putting in the work. You’ve got to keep a path and keep your mind to where it needs to be. I’m a hard worker and I love having a purpose every morning and that’s kind of what I did.
I’ve got tattoos on my arms which says ‘attitude’ and ‘positive energy’ and sometimes, I forget to look at them. There are a lot of things you can’t control in life, but I guess these two, you can. You’ve got to have good attitude in life, and it’s easier said than done at times. And energy, you can bring the energy not only to yourself but to the people around you and that’s something we all should strive for.
There were bumps but that’s life. I wish my little Mia is here with us but she’s not and she’s truly in a better place after a long battle that she wasn’t going to win. I accepted that. We turned that tragedy into something very positive with Mia’s Miracles. My wife reads messages from people we help on Mia’s Miracles every week and I go, man, if Mia was here, we wouldn’t be able to do this.
At the beginning of the year, things were not going great and I made a little swing change. I’ve never been too excited about big swing changes but I trusted the guy I started working with, Jose Campra, and he told me he needed a year. I’m glad it took less than that, as here we are with a trophy.
Interestingly, I never felt so comfortable being in contention during those two weeks. It’s weird, even strange. When I was in contention back in the day, I didn’t have this calmness. I’ve got to analyze what happened and try to replicate it more often. I was good at reacting to missed putts or lip-outs, which I’m not used to being like that before. There was a calmness in me.
It was nice to have the Latin players come out to celebrate with me on the 18th green. I guess it was also payback as I sprayed Nico Echavarria with champagne when he won the Puerto Rico Open and he got me back. It’s great as it’s two wins for two Colombians this year, both guys growing up on the same golf course in Medellin.
I tell my wife all the time that if we do things in the right way, people will look at you in a positive way and respect you. I think that’s what I try to do. I enjoy being around the younger generation and sharing what I’ve lived. Life is about experiences. You get good and bad ones and you try to learn from both. I was young once too and I had guys who helped me throughout my career. I always want to accomplish more but I’m at peace with what I’ve accomplished already. It’s all about sharing it with others, especially the Latin kids who represent our region and grow the game of golf in South America.
Note: Camilo Villegas is now a five-time PGA TOUR winner and you can watch him and the best golfers compete on Eurosports.