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Villegas' struggles gone during round

Friday, April 08, 2011

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Camilo Villegas picked a great time to grind out one of his best rounds of the year.

The 2011 season could hardly have started more poorly for the 29-year-old Colombian, who has a disqualification, a withdrawal and three missed cuts in nine PGA Tour events, with a tie for 35th at the WGC-Cadillac Championship as his best finish.

He used a hot streak in the middle of his second nine in Thursday's opening round to finish with 2-under 70 -- tied for his third-best round this year.

"Yes, it hasn't been my best start of the year and I'm maybe not feeling the best, but you know what, you've got to go out there with whatever you have," Villegas said. "You've got to battle, you've got to grind, you've got to play with your heart and play with courage, and I think that's kind of what I did today. I was patient all day."

Villegas birdied three holes in a row -- Nos. 13-15, moving to 3-under -- and nearly pushed it to four in a row.

"I hit it really tight on 16. I should've birdied that one, but pulled my putt a bit," he said.

Villegas gave back a stroke with bogey on No. 17 but made par on 18. He was pleased by the way he avoided trouble throughout his first round.

"I only hit it in one really bad spot today, which was when I hit it in the right bunker on 10 (leading to bogey)," he said. "Other than that, I took my medicine and made my fives and played steady."

He blamed his uneven results this spring on overexertion, after deciding at the end of last season that he needed to work harder.

"Maybe I just overtried a little bit and got a little tense and things were not going the way I wanted them to go at the beginning of the year," he said.

He credited his patience to his growing understanding of Augusta National Golf Club. He missed the cut in his first two Masters appearances before tying for 13th and 38th the past two years. Those experiences taught Villegas the importance of picking his spots and waiting for birdie opportunities to present themselves.

"The first two years really taught me a lot. More than anything, it's that it's a golf course that you have to respect, but can't fear," he said. "After my second year, I played a lot better just with that in my mind. The reason why is because there's a lot of tough holes out there, but there are a lot of holes for birdie."

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