Vegas defies big odds, shows great poise in winning Bob Hope Classic
LAQUINTA, Calif. – Wonder what the odds are against a PGA Tour rookie, playing in his fifth event, winning, especially a five-day tournament? It stands to reason they would be about as they’d be of a young man from a country known much more for producing shortstops becoming a winner on the PGA Tour.
Jhonattan Vegas became the first Venezuelan to win a Tour event, sinking a 13-foot putt for par on the second playoff hole. His chances of getting his hands on that $900,000 winner’s check seemed to slip away on the tee of the 92nd hole when he hit his drive into the water, but playing partner Gary Woodland chopped a pair of chip shots, allowing Vegas back in the game.
“I really can’t put my feelings into words,” Vegas said. “To get the opportunity to do something like this and then to do it, well, thanks God, I appreciate it. It doesn’t get any better than this. You dream about something like this and then to have it happen. Wow.”
Vegas and Woodland shared the lead the final three rounds and their individual battle continued all through another perfect day in the desert. But Woodland came to the final hole in regulation two shots behind. He, however, was able to make a birdie on the final hole, while Vegas missed a 9-footer for par. Vegas’ misstep allowed defending champion Bill Haas to get into the playoff at 27-under par. But he could only last the first hole as he made a par and Vegas and Woodland made birdies.
Haas had his chances. “Absolutely,” Haas said afterward. “No. 15, 10 footer, 17 about a 15 footer, three putted 18, and then I know it was 20 feet. But that’s still makeable on the last hole. So a lot of misses there.” The flip side of that, of course, is that at 27 under Haas made plenty of putts, too. “I won’t hang my head too much,” Haas continued.
“I felt great all day,” Woodland said when asked about the final round and playoff special. “I've been in contention in some Nationwide Tour events where I didn't feel like I drove the ball very well. Today I felt like I drove the ball beautifully. I managed myself pretty well. I got on a little run there to get back in it through the turn, unfortunately, I didn't get any putts to drop on the back. And I kept hitting good shots in there and giving myself chances, I just couldn't get any to go in.”
1) Jhonattan Vegas (VEN) 64-67-67-66-69 (333, -27),
(wins on the 2nd playoff hole)
Bill Haas (USA) 69-68-68-62-66
Gary Woodland (USA) 65-69-64-66-69
4) Ryan Palmer (USA) 67-71-65-67-64 (334, -26)
5) Brian Gay (USA) 69-69-66-70-62 (336, -24)
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