This pro got DQ’d on his birthday. He hasn’t forgotten it

PGA Tour pro Camilo Villegas points on green during practice at 2024 Sentry

Camilo Villegas' career resurgence continued on Thursday at the 2024 Sentry.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

PGA Tour veteran Camilo Villegas put together a scintillating opening round at the Sentry, the latest mark of his recent career resurgence. But it was a story Villegas shared about a Kapalua start from years past involving a bizarre, untimely DQ that caught our attention on Thursday.

Following his first-round 65, which put him one shot behind early leader Sahith Theegala, Villegas met with reporters to discuss his impressive day on the course.

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But a question about his play on the Plantation Course’s 15th reminded the Columbian pro about a rules incident that occurred over a decade ago on the very same hole and resulted in a disqualification… on his birthday.

“I was talking with Collin Morikawa in the locker room yesterday, actually. I said, Hey, last time I was here it was my birthday and I got DQ’d. And he goes, ‘Really? What happened?’ And then I told him just kind of a little funky rule there and it happened,” Villegas shared on Thursday. “I went to bed that night, I remember perfectly, and woke up in the morning, go to get a little warm up, [former Golf Channel reporter] Kelly Tilghman is there in the gym and she says, ‘I think he’s getting DQ’d’. And I’m like, Really? What’s going to happen?”

The “little funky rule” Villegas referred to happened at the 2011 Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. On the 15th hole, Villegas twice failed to chip up a slope leading the green, each time watching his ball roll back to his feet. But, according to an report from the time, while the ball was still rolling after his second attempt, Villegas swiped away some debris in the path of the ball.

In doing so, he had unknowingly violated Rule 23-1, which states, “When a ball is in motion, a loose impediment that might influence the movement of the ball must not be removed.”

A viewer watching on TV, however, did know the rule, and called into PGA Tour rules officials to report the violation. Unfortunately Villegas wasn’t aware of his penalty until the next morning. Having already signed an incorrect scorecard, he was summarily disqualified.

The nature of the DQ even forced then-PGA Tour rules official Slugger White to declare, “It makes me sick.”

But it wasn’t all bad news for Villegas. Given the unfortunate fact that the rules flap coincided with his birthday, the Tour did give him something to soften the blow: a cake.

“Anyway, they did have a nice little cake for me after I got DQ’d,” Villegas related on Thursday, “so I came to grab a bite and then pack everything for next week.”

Back in 2011, a younger Villegas already had three PGA Tour victories to his name, and he would add a fourth at the 2014 Wyndham Championship. It would be nearly a decade before he entered the winner’s circle again.

Following years of on-course struggles and personal tragedy, Villegas mounted the summit again last November when he captured his fifth Tour win at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. That win earned him a spot in this week’s event, which he has quickly taken advantage of. It also locked up his status on Tour for 2024 and beyond.

Kevin Cunningham

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