Camilo Villegas said he had a “really bad feeling” the week of The Honda Classic at the end of February.
He was in his home gym, working out, when his 20-month-old daughter, Mia, came in. The four-time PGA Tour winner described his daughter as a “little monkey” when she comes in the gym to spend time with her dad. On that day, though, Mia wasn’t acting like her normal self.
Mia was also crying louder than normal. The Villegases thought that Mia might be teething. That did not turn out to be the case.
After taking Mia to the pediatrician, going through myriad tests and scans, their doctors told them Mia has cancerous tumors in her brain and on her spine. She’s now in her second round of chemo after going through surgery.
Villegas detailed his daughter’s journey on Wednesday at TPC Sawgrass, where he’s preparing to compete in the Korn Ferry Challenge, the first event in the return of the Korn Ferry Tour. He wasn’t sure he should play.
“I don’t know if my instincts are to come play this week. It’s been weird,” he said. “I don’t know where my mind is. I know where my heart is.”
Villegas said he was convinced by his wife, who suggested he compete this week.
“I love golf, and my wife wanted me to come here and swing the club, get my mind away,” he said. “She has been really strong through the entire situation.”
The Colombia native made clear he wasn’t sharing his story in hopes of garnering “sympathy,” but that the universe might provide some positive thoughts and feelings for his daughter.
“If anybody wants to think about her, just think about her playing, growing and doing all the normal things a baby does, and I’m sure we’ll get there,” said Villegas, tearing up as he spoke.
He remains hopeful Mia will get through this.
“She’s in pain, but she keeps fighting. She keeps inspiring us,” he said. “We’ll be there for her, and hopefully like I’ve had the chance to celebrate some golf tournaments, we can celebrate when she’s clean.”