Villegas makes 'em swoon

KEN FIDLIN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

OAKVILLE -- The gallery was ringed three or four deep at the green for the par-5 16th hole. It had been building for about 15 minutes, understandable enough, because Stephen Ames was on his way up the fairway.

But it wasn't just the leading Canadian the folks were waiting to see. They also were waiting for the leading Colombian. Without doing a scientific survey, we're going to say the crowd included more than the usual number from the female persuasion. Imagine that.

Camilo Villegas surveyed his 60-foot eagle putt, then knocked it to within six feet of the cup. When his turn came up again, he started to grind for his birdie, looking at it from all sides. He even went into his trademark Spiderman (Hombre Arana) pose, balanced on the ball of one foot, supported by his putter, his nose three inches from the turf, his butt pointed to the heavens in his J. Lindeberg designer pants. (A note about the pants: Not for most men, unless you have the waist of a dancer. Trust me.)

He circled the putt like a cat stalking some helpless prey then, once again, did the Spidey thing. I thought the woman in front of me was about to faint. "Oh, my," she said, clutching the elbow of her man (husband? boyfriend?) as Villegas rolled the ball into the hole, centre cut. I couldn't see her pal's face but I imagined him rolling his eyes in dismay. Or maybe in envy.

I mean, not only is Villegas one of the hottest talents in golf, with the best part of his career ahead of him, a student of the game who is respectful and understands its history, a multi-millionaire at the age of 27, but then all he has to do is walk down the street, flash that rascal's smile and, well, you get the picture.

It is an aspect of his persona that Villegas is loathe even to acknowledge, at least in public.

"I'm just a normal person," he said during an interview session several years back when he first came out on Tour. "I'm just a golfer on the PGA Tour that wants to play good golf and have fun."

Pressed about his magnetic effect on women at that time, he made a small concession.

"It's possible but I don't see too much negative about it."

He has a point, the lucky dog. Right now, there isn't anything much that's negative about his golf game, either.

In his first five years on Tour, Villegas has pocketed $9.7 million US, while making improvements every year, tightening his game. In the past two seasons, he has made 33 of 38 cuts and has 18 top-25 finishes. Last year was a breakthrough season when Villegas won the final two FedEx Cup tournaments of the year, including the Tour Championship, to finish second for the FedEx Cup itself behind Vijay Singh.

Yesterday, he rocketed into contention at the 100th Canadian Open, catching fire on the back nine of his opening round, a round that had been delayed by the monsoon that closed the course for more than seven hours on Thursday.

Villegas was tooling along at three-under-par which, in real terms, was about even par, given the soft conditions, when he got to the 13th hole. From there he went birdie, par, birdie, birdie, birdie, eagle for a smooth 63 to tie Kevin Na for the lead.

In his second round yesterday afternoon, Villegas got one more shot under par through 13 holes before a thunderstorm delayed proceedings once again. He one shot off the lead held by American Jerry Kelly.

There's little question he'll be in the thick of the hunt through the weekend as he prowls the fairways of Glen Abbey Golf Club, his faithful gallery trailing behind.

KEN.FIDLIN@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos