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Camilo Villegas returns after media frenzy in Columbia

After experiencing a hectic week of celebrity treatment in his native Colombia, Camilo Villegas has returned to his normal world of professional golf for the Tour Championship.

Seventeen days ago, the 26-year-old clinched his maiden PGA Tour title at the BMW Championship, a breakthrough that sparked widespread media coverage in his homeland.

“The media and the fans back home have been unbelievable,” Villegas told reporters on the eve of Thursday’s opening round at East Lake Golf Club. “It’s something new.

“They’re still learning about the game but it’s fun to hear guys that have never watched a golf tournament, have never held a golf ball in their hand, talking about golf and rooting for a guy that’s out here trying to represent them as well as I can.

“It’s good for golf in Colombia, it’s good for golf in South America, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Villegas, who won his first title on the world’s biggest tour by two shots, returned to Colombia the following week to spend time with his family and friends.

“That was awesome,” he said. “I couldn’t wait to get back home and just relax a little bit, even though there was not much relaxing. It was media, media, media and a little more media.

“Even when I got there, there was a bunch of media at the airport. I have no clue how they found out I was travelling that day,” he added with a smile.

Ranked 17th in the world, Villegas is delighted to be back at East Lake for the second year in a row at an elite event for the top 30 players in the FedExCup standings.

“The Tour Championship is always one of your goals at the beginning of the year,” he said.

“Being here is special and having a chance to just put yourself in contention against 30 guys that have had a great year is a lot of fun.”

Villegas is scheduled to tee off with runaway FedExCup points leader Vijay Singh at 1410 local (1810 GMT) in Thursday’s opening round.


September 25, 2008

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