Camilo Villegas started five groups ahead of the 3rd round leaders in the Wyndham Championship and he took full advantage of the cover that provided. He shot a final-round 7-under, 63 to rocket up the leaderboard to win by one over Bill Haas (-6) and Freddie Jacobson (-4).
The leaders, Nick Watney and Brad Fritsche shot even par and that’s rarely going to be good enough to get it done. But Watney managed to move himself into the top 100 (94) on the FedExCup points list which would get him through the Barclays and into the Deutsche Bank if he can maintain that. Fritsche, on the other hand, has had a tough year (151) with a status that made it difficult for him to get into events. He will try to improve his position by doing well in the Web.com Finals.
Villegas hasn’t won in 3½ years and he was very gratified that all his hard work finally paid off:
“It’s been three and a half years of no wins. Part of the game, I guess. Part of a pro golfer’s career. I’m pretty hard on myself. I’ve always worked hard and again, I’m happy to be here.”
Not only was he gratified with this work, he was grateful for the hard work of all of the people who put on the tournament:
“Like I said out there on the putting green, us golfers, we take a lot of things for granted. We show up on Monday, there’s a courtesy car waiting for us and come Sunday we pack our bags and off we go to the next tournament, we play another great golf course, another great venue.”
“This case, this week 1,800 volunteers, all the guys in the clubhouse, all the crew that takes care of the golf course, the guys that cater our food. I mean we get spoiled in that way. It’s not the easiest job but, again, I’m very thankful to everybody that’s involved with this golf course and with every golf tournament on the PGA Tour. They do a hell of a job to provide us with this unbelievable job.”
That gratitude flows from the humility he feels:
“Proud of myself and here we go. But tomorrow morning when I wake up I’ll be the same guy I was yesterday. So there will be a million beautiful things being written about me today and I probably won’t be reading too many of them because, like I said, tomorrow morning I’ll be the same guy with this trophy or if I would have just missed the cut.”
Because he started five groups ahead of the leaders, he had a lot of time on his hands once he finished. And it was made a little harder to fully appreciate his final round accomplishment because he thought he was going to need one more shot to get into a playoff, let alone win. So he hung out in the scorer’s tent watching the final groups come in on television:
“I was hanging there with my caddy and watch a little golf. Tough sometimes when you’re watching it, you can’t control. When the boys got closer to the last hole, you get a little anxious and, like I said, you don’t have a golf club in your hand. You can’t control. Sometimes it’s better to be on the golf course.”
One of the things that came out of his winning drought was a sense of perspective and proportion. Sometimes things don’t happen on your timetable and you just have to be able to sustain your commitment to the vision in spite of what’s happening in the moment:
“I always said, as golfers, we always want to play better. It doesn’t matter. The guy that’s 100 in the world wants to be 50. The guy at 50 wants to be 20. The guy is 20 wants to be 10 and keeps going forward and forward.”
“Freddie [Jacobson], if you go and ask Freddie right now how he’s feeling, I guarantee you he’s not feeling great. You know what? He had a great week. He played great. He lost by one. But that’s the game. That’s life. That’s the job we chose and it is what it is.”
“Yeah, I lose confidence. You kind of give yourself kicks in the butt and maybe dig yourself in that hole a little bit harder. You don’t enjoy the game as much as do you when you’re playing good.”
“Again, that’s the same thing in life. When things are going great, it’s easy to enjoy. When things are not going good, it’s hard to enjoy.”
“You got to stay strong and keep working. I’ve always done that. I’ve always been a hard worker and always kind of believed in myself, sometimes more than others and, again, just happy to be right here right next to this trophy.”
That is not to say that keeping your belief in yourself and waiting it out is a bed of roses. Days seem to produce no tangible results and last forever…and turn into weeks…and turn into months…and turn into years:
“I mean there’s times when you’re, I don’t know, not happy, lose a little confidence, too hard on yourself, love and hate the game. I’m not going to say hate but love and hate.”
“And yeah, but you know what, it’s funny because your mind tells you things and then the next day you do it all over again. What I mean by that, yes, there’s times you go like, “Man, I hate this game. How much longer do I want to play the game? How much longer do I want to travel?”
“That’s just you being silly because once again, you take two days off, you show up to the range, good attitude, keep practicing, keep grinding, show up to the tournament, hope you have a good week, work for a hard week, look at the trophy, want one of those in your house and, again, there’s low spots but is that really you talking to you? I don’t know.”
And all of this is exacerbated by the very nature of the game. The difference between struggling in the doldrums and dancing around the trophy is a razor thin margin:
“Nothing. That’s the reality of the game, nothing. There’s such a small margin between playing good, playing average, playing bad. Did I trust myself a little bit more this week? Yes. Did I hit it a little bit better this week? Yes. Did I putt a little bit better this week? Yes.”
“It’s hard to explain. We chose a pretty interesting game to make it our job and you got to be patient. You got to be patient and you got to learn what works for you. I’ve been learning that maybe taking a little bit easier on myself is a good equation.”
And finally, you have to be prepared for the cunning nature of the game. Here we have a successful player with 3 wins under his belt. He knows how to get it done. And so he does the same things he’s always done but is unable to produce another win over 3½ years. And it can be frustrating if you let it:
“It is for everybody that plays this game. We all want to play better. We all push ourselves. We all get frustrated. I just give the perfect example of how Freddie Jacobson is feeling right now.”
“If I was in his position, trust me, there’s so many good things he did this week but just the way our minds work and that particular situation, you’re just not thinking about them. You try but somehow those little missed putts, missed opportunities come in your head. It is what it is, man.”
You just have to know in your heart that the sunny day you imagine will one day be the day you find yourself in…and as Camilo did, take advantage of it…and relish it. Strong emotions are the ones you don’t forget.
A Closing Note: I wrote about 2nd-round leader, Heath Slocum on Saturday and his effort to get inside the top 125 in FedExCup points to win his card. Unfortunately, even though he finished 4th, he didn’t get it done. In an effort to try to win the tournament, he ran his 48-foot, first putt on the 18th green 8 feet by and missed it coming back. Had he made that second putt he would have won his card. He too will try to win it in the Web.Com Finals.