With Tiger Woods' "transgressions" stealing the positive energy from the great sport of golf, my pals and I began speculating late last December on who would emerge as golf's savior. The easiest scenario seemed obvious: Phil Mickelson would charge back onto the green, return Golf to its moral high ground, and make the sport watchable once again. After all, he's a great guy. Where Tiger fell, Phil floated: Mickelson took time off of Golf to care for his wife as she fights breast cancer, and again shortly after when his mother was diagnosed as well.
On top of it all, Phil is a really good golfer, and a dynamic lefty to boot. His golf is just good fun to watch. Phil has, however, been unimpressive on the tour so far this year.
Enter Camilo Villegas. The stylish twenty-eight-year-old from Medellín, Columbia. Boasting designer clothes, sponsorships from Cobra and Red Bull, and a super-funky way about lining up his putt. Villegas also averages over three-hundred yards-per-drive; not bad for a skinny Colombian.
As my cronies and I pondered 'who could possibly emerge to save golf from this lame and entangling Tiger-web of scandal and gossip?' Camillo never crossed our conversation. We mentioned Perez, Snedeker, Howell, Garcia, Els, Singh, and on, and on, all the while dismissing the pretty boy as a goofy Latin heart-throb: just an excuse to get one's wife or girlfriend to not change the channel, or run another beer in from the kitchen.
But this kid is for real; and the timing is perfect.
That "Sexiest Man in Golf" title may be the key to some of us being let back onto the course - after Tiger's tree-scratching got more than a few women turned off to the sport entirely.
Villegas is not too good to be true either; just another young up-and-comer with a game as complete as a Cadillac at a Barret-Jackson Auction.
As the big trees, who dominated the sport over the last decade, stand aside to let light in, the next generation of golfers is emerging strong. And for now, Camilo Villegas is ahead of the pack.