Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas came through a three-man playoff against Bill Haas and Gary Woodland to win the PGA Tour's Bob Hope Classic at La Quinta in California.
Vegas went into the final round of this five-round event, in a tie for the lead with Gary Woodland of the USA. But the Venezuelan took the early advantage as he raced to the turn in 32. The birdies dried up for Vegas on the back nine, however, allowing defending champion Bill Haas and Gary Woodland to close the gap.
When Vegas missed a nine-foot putt on the final green to record his only bogey of the day, he dropped back into a tie at the top of the leaderboard with the two Americans.
A playoff was required to decide the title. Haas was eliminated at the first extra hole as both Vegas and Woodland made birdies. The title appeared to be going Woodland's way when Vegas fired his tee shot on the second playoff hole into a water hazard. But Vegas dropped and fired a 9-iron onto the green, leaving a 13-foot par putt.
Woodland then played a poor approach that found the greenside bunker. His splash-shot was not his best and he failed to get up-and-down. That left Vegas with a putt for the title. He duly rolled it in to become the first ever Venezuelan winner on the PGA Tour.
"Just to think about winning on the PGA TOUR, that's something," Vegas said. "But to make it happen is something else, and it's a crazy feeling. It was tough today to stay neutral and play golf, and that's why. To my country, I hope this means a lot. I really hope it means people changing their minds about the sport."
Ryan Palmer and Brian Gay climbed the leaderboard with respective final rounds of 64 and 62. Palmer finished alone in fourth and Gay in a tie for fifth with Kevin Na.
Scotland's Martin Laird fired a disappointing 74 on Sunday to drop down into a tie for 22nd.
Bob Hope Classic La Quinta, California Jan 19-23, purse $5,000,000, par 72
1 Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) 64 67 67 66 69 333 $900,000 T2 Bill Haas (USA) 69 68 68 62 66 333 $440,000 T2 Gary Woodland (USA) 65 69 64 66 69 333 $440,000 4 Ryan Palmer (USA) 67 71 65 67 64 334 $240,000 T5 Brian Gay (USA) 69 69 66 70 62 336 $190,000 T5 Kevin Na (USA) 69 67 68 65 67 336 $190,000 T7 Keegan Bradley (USA) 66 67 68 66 70 337 $150,625 T7 Chris Couch (USA) 67 65 69 70 66 337 $150,625 T7 Chris Kirk (USA) 69 68 64 66 70 337 $150,625 T7 Matt Kuchar (USA) 66 70 67 66 68 337 $150,625
Note: Player in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only
Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
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