Villegas looks for Whistling Straits inspiration

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 12, 2015 4:43 PM

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

KOHLER, Wisconsin (Reuters) - Camilo Villegas has endured a roller-coaster ride of form since his career-best year on the PGA Tour in 2008 but is banking on reigniting his game at this week's PGA Championship at one of his favorite venues.

Five years ago, the Colombian tied for eighth when the PGA Championship was last held on the spectacular links-style layout at Whistling Straits and is well aware of the pitfalls that lurk on the bunker riddled, Pete Dye-designed course.

"It's a golf course where you've got to be patient," Villegas, 33, told Reuters while working on his short game on the practice putting green close to the imposing stone clubhouse, modeled on an Irish farmhouse.

"You know you're going to get a bad break here and there ... with so many bunkers around, you're going to get a bad lie here and there.

"But it's a very pretty place and I like it, I like it. You've got to think your way around. I played good here five years ago, had a really nice Sunday round (68) which got me a little top-10, so I'm really looking forward to this week."

Villegas is a four-times winner on the PGA Tour and capped a golden 2008 campaign by winning the final two FedExCup playoff events, the BMW Championship and Tour Championship.

Since then, though, he has frequently struggled and in 2012 did not record a single top-10 in 21 tour starts to miss out on the playoffs for the first time in his career.

Just over 12 months ago, Villegas ended a four-year title drought with a one-stroke victory at the Wyndham Championship but has been inconsistent again this season.

"It's been a couple of off years so winning last year at the Wyndham was awesome," said the muscular Colombian, known for his unusual low-to-the-ground crouching method to read putts.

"This year hasn't been the best, just kind of a slow start and nothing got going," said Villegas, who has missed nine cuts in 23 PGA Tour starts this season. "But I've been working hard, man.

"Last year's win told me that you've got to be patient, you've got to keep working hard, you've got to grind your way round and I'm doing the same thing this year. You never know when they (wins) are going to come your way."

Villegas is playing Thursday's opening round with Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal.

(Editing by Larry Fine)