RSM Classic: Camilo Villegas, two back, tries to win for Mia

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ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Georgia – Camilo Villegas chased a little white ball and tried to put it in a hole long enough to know only half the job is done at the RSM Classic and half is yet to come. He takes a very pragmatic approach to win his first PGA Tour title since 2014.

“Lots of golf to play,” he says. “We’ll do the same tomorrow, get out here, try to be free, and just add them up at the end of the day.”

On Friday the scoreboard added up to 6 under 66 during planting and combined with 6 under 64 a day earlier during seaside at Sea Island Resort, Villegas kicks off the weekend at 12 under 130 and two shots behind 36- hole leader Robert Streb. For the 38-year-old Colombian native, that marks his score of 36 holes, his career lowest on the Tour.

Bronson Burgoon, who had six birdies in a seven-hole streak en route to the 63rd on Friday, played with Villegas and came away impressed with his performance.

“I tried to just fall behind, to do what he was doing,” Burgoon said. “He made it pretty easy yesterday. I made a few putts today.

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This is all the more remarkable considering that it was just four months ago that Villegas’ daughter, Mia, lost her battle with cancerous tumors in her brain at the tender age of 22 months. Villegas and his wife Maria have a wonderful outlook on life and are committed to bringing Mia’s legacy to life through their foundation, Mia’s Miracles.

Earlier this week, Villegas, who wears a rainbow ribbon on his hat when he plays in memory of his daughter, spent time with sports psychologist Gio Valiante, author of “Fearless Golf,” and someone else. ‘one with whom he has maintained a relationship since his days at the University of Florida.

“It was perfect to have him,” Villegas said. “We had a great time, had a few meals, chatted about shit and a little golf. Obviously you know what it is with golf, it’s about being free and I think it has helped me to be a little more free these days.

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Villegas played his first 28 holes without a bogey, but it was the way he played after the bogey that he was most proud of.

“I was patient in the middle of the round. I know I was playing well and I just didn’t take advantage of that 8th hole, 9th hole and 10th hole and then I kind of made a stupid bogey on 11, ”he says. “You start to add more and it’s two, three shots and you feel like leaving a few in there. At this point you just have to be patient, know that you are playing well.

It all came together at the last hole, the par 5 of the Plantation Course, where he eagle to finish the round.

“I was a bit lucky to be honest,” he says. “I pushed my disc, it bounced off the path of the cart. I only had 9 iron so I was able to be a bit more aggressive with a front pin that was in a tough spot with the way it was playing downwind.

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Can Villegas win one for Mia? It’s the kind of story that would bring tears to the eyes of the biggest grumpy. Villegas, for his part, said he felt his confidence increasing, but reiterated that he had a long way to go to reach the No.5 Tour title.

“It’s not a two-day thing, it’s a process,” he says. “The swing is nice, the speed is better than it was and I don’t have any pain, so that’s good.”

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