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New Stars

With his second win in as many starts, Camilo Villegas, has definitely ascended to the upper echelon of Tour players.

Villegas won one of the Tour’s marquee events, yesterday by winning the Tour Championship on the first hole of sudden-death with Sergio Garcia. Garcia and Villegas had ended regulation play at 7 under par and one shot ahead of Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim. It was a star studded leader-board.

The enigmatic 26 year old Columbian has everything that you need to become a big star. Villegas is (as my female friends have told me) great looking, dresses with flair, is passionate and most importantly can really play. Villegas has every shot in his repertoire, and the imagination and charisma of a Renaissance artist.

Sure enough, the absence of Tiger Woods has allowed some young players to learn to win, which is ultimately the barometer of greatness. When Tiger returns next year, he will find that some other players who heretofore had perhaps been influenced by his “aura”, may now be less affected by that. The reason is simple; winning creates belief.

2008 has seen the emergence of the following players:

Villegas. Although it took him 85 starts on Tour to win his first event, he has crashed through that barrier to win the last two events. For all the reasons listed above, he is going to be a very big star.

Anthony Kim. 23 year old Kim played another fantastic event and barely missed joining Garcia and Villegas in the playoff (was one shot behind). Following his heroics in last week Ryder Cup and combined with his two wins on the Tour this year, this brilliant young player may eventually be the person that challenges, Mr. Woods.

Sergio Garcia. It is sometimes easy to forget that Garcia is only 28 years old, since he has now been on the world’s stage for 11 years. Garcia was in contention in three of the four Fed Ex play-off tournaments and, lost two of those in play-offs; at the Barclay’s event to Vijay Singh and yesterday to Villegas. Garcia’s big win came earlier this year at the Player’s Championship, but he is showing signs of a new maturity and consistency with his game.

Boo Weekely. Boo may not have the talent of the three players above and at 35 years old he is not a young golfer but he has a genuine charisma and is impossible not to like. Weekley is also one the best ball strikers on Tour and plays without fear. His down home charm, humor and uninhibited joy make Boo, compelling.

When Tiger does return, he may find that these (and other) players have learned that they too, can draw from an “aura” of their own. Should make for some incredible golf.