‘There’s a lot of demons out here’. Pro gets honest about fear in golf

Following Round 2 of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship, Camilo Villegas got candid about having fear in golf, and how to best control it

We all have fear in golf, and it's refreshing to hear Camilo Villegas open up about it.

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The game of golf has treated Camilo Villegas quite well recently — but that hadn’t been the case for a long time, unfortunately.

After placing T-2 at last week’s World Wide Technology Championship with an impressive 25-under, Villegas has carried over that high level of play to this week’s Butterfield Bermuda Championship, where, once again, he finds himself in contention. (As of press time, he’s T-2 at 18-under, just one stroke off the lead).

While things have been clicking for the 41-year-old over the past couple tournaments, his 2nd place finish last week was his best final result since November of 2016 — so it’s been a long time coming for Villegas to regain his form.

To his credit, he hasn’t made excuses, and, instead, actually addressed something that every golfer can relate with: Fear in golf.

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When asked about his performance last week, Villegas got candid about having fear during competition — especially as the pressure mounts when your name is close to the top of the leaderboard.

“I thought I was going to be at the worst scared, to be honest, because it gets a little scary up there,” he said. “But I felt really comfortable, I enjoyed every second, and I guess we put ourself in a little position here for the weekend; so hopefully we can keep the good vibes.”

In response to a specific question about it being “scary” being in contention last week, Villegas expanded further, saying it’s important to channel fear in golf as much as possible.

“Let me be honest, let’s tell the viewer out there; people think that we just kind of chill out here and we’re very comfortable doing what we’re doing, but there’s a lot of demons out here and when you’ve been doing it for a long time, he said.

“Golf is hard. Everybody feels fear at some point playing golf, playing competitive golf, playing against the best players in the world. It’s about looking forward to feeling that not fear, kind of reshaping that fear into something a little bit, just lowering the curve and just managing it. To be honest, there was none of that last week, which I was surprised, so let’s keep it going.”

As mentioned above, hearing Villegas open up about having fear in golf is refreshing. Pro players make the game look so easy, but they still battle internal demons like every weekend warrior does; and it’s important to recognize that.

While the results haven’t necessarily been there for Villegas, trusting the process is apparent.

“It hasn’t been a great year, to be honest from a performance point of view,” Villegas said. “It’s been a great year from a kind of, kind of reshaping, retooling, overhauling, whatever you want to call it.”

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The road back towards contention has been a long one for Villegas, who said that his coach, Jose Campra, told him when they began working together in February that the duo needed a year before seeing real results.

“[Campra] was very honest with me,” adds Villegas. “He said, ‘I need a year.’ I was like, ‘wow, man, I’ve got to play’. He said, ‘I don’t care what kind of status you have at the end of the year, we’re going to grind and, hopefully, golf becomes a little bit easier than it’s been the last few years.”

“Yeah, it’s been a grind,” Villegas openly admitted.

With the hard work starting to pay off, it’s inspired a newfound confidence for Villegas. But he knows there’s still a long way to go before finishing off his comeback with a victory this weekend.

“We’re only halfway there, but we’ll keep playing.”

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Nick Dimengo

Golf.com Editor