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Camilo Villegas follows rainbow to top of RSM Classic

Camilo Villegas co-leader 1st round 2020 RSM Classic
Camilo Villegas responds to an inspiring vision on the practice range, grabbing a share of the lead at the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic on Thursday at Sea Island (Ga.) Resort.

5 months after losing his daughter to cancer, Colombian embraces a vision on the range and shoots a bogey-free 64 to share the lead

Camilo Villegas spotted a sign from the heavens and figured that Thursday might be his day.

And so it was.

Villegas shot 6-under 64 at Sea Island (Ga.) Resort’s Seaside Course and shared the lead in the first round of the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic with England’s Matt Wallace (scores).

Villegas, 38, a four-time PGA Tour winner from Colombia, is competing again after he and his wife, Maria, lost their only child, 22-month-old daughter Mia, to cancer on her brain and spine on July 26. Villegas has found the competition to be therapeutic after a horrendous year, even by 2020 standards.

“It was kind of nice this morning,” he said. “I got on the range and see a little rainbow out there. I start thinking about Mia and said, Hey, let’s have a good one."

Starting on the par-4 10th hole, Villegas rolled in a 9½-foot birdie putt. After four pars, he ran off three consecutive birdies, on Nos. 15-17, and added another birdie on his back nine before he birdied his final hole. It was his lowest score on the PGA Tour in four years.

“It was a good ball-striking round; it was a great putting round,” said Villegas, who had his brother Manny on the bag. “I was pretty free all day. It’s tough to be free under these conditions, but I found a way to do it.”

Villegas, the 2008 Tour Championship winner, hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since the 2014 Wyndham Championship. He lost in a playoff in Sea Island in 2016.

He was ranked as high as No. 7 in the world in early 2009 but has plummeted to No. 866 in the world order. He played some Korn Ferry Tour events earlier this year and has missed three cuts in five starts on the PGA Tour’s fall schedule.

But Thursday on the Georgia coast, he took another step in his future. “I've said it a million times: I can't change the past, and since I can't change the past, I've got to focus on the present,” he said. “It's not about forgetting, because you never forget your daughter, but it's about being in the moment, being in the now, and this is my now.”

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