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For nine years Camilo Villegas never stopped grinding. 

The Colombian saw his game stagnate after a hot rookie start, years of seemingly effortless consistency and four PGA Tour wins. The man beloved for his “Spiderman” green-reading technique and bold apparel had suddenly disappeared from fans’ TV screens. Villegas lost his PGA Tour card and a shoulder surgery made the comeback he was yearning for increasingly difficult. 

If anything were to have deterred Villegas from returning to the winner’s circle, however, it wouldn’t have been ailments or swing troubles. 

In 2020, Villegas and his wife Maria lost their 22-month old daughter, Mia. She fought brain and spine tumors for four long months. The pain of such a tragedy was simply unimaginable for Villegas and his family, but it didn’t stop Villegas from pushing. The memory of Mia propelled him forward. 

“Nine years where you kind of stop believing at times, but I never stopped waking up early and putting in the work,” Villegas said on Sunday at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. 

Just moments after securing his first PGA Tour victory since the 2014 Wyndham Championship, Villegas’s gaze drifted up to the sky. For the first time since 2015, Villegas will be a full-time PGA Tour member and will play in the 2024 Masters and PGA Championship.

At 41 years old, Villegas might not have totally believed he’d ever reenter the winner’s circle. In August, early retirement didn’t seem out of the picture when he joined Golf Channel’s broadcast as an analyst instead of a contender. But like Villegas said himself, the work never stopped. With the help of swing coach Jose Campra, Villegas overhauled his mechanics and transformed his golf swing back into one that could win on the PGA Tour. 

And Villegas knew exactly who was watching when the result of all of that effort finally came to fruition. 

“What a ride, man. I love this game and this game has given me so many great things. But in the process it kicks your butt. 

“Life has given me so many great things and in the process it kicks my butt too,” Villegas said, his eyes drawn upwards once again. “My little one up there is watching.”

[Source: SI.com]

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