07/24/2016

Welcome back Johnny Vegas!

The wonderfully named Venezuelan Jhonattan Vegas finally returned to the PGA Tour winner’s circle with a one-shot victory at the Canadian Open. Vegas shot a final round 64, birdieing the final three holes, to overtake 54-hole leader Brandt Snedeker and finish a shot better than Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Martin Laird.

Snedeker closed with a 71 to tie for fifth at 10-under.

Vegas burst onto the PGA Tour scene in 2011 when he won the Bob Hope Classic in just his fifth-ever career start on Tour. He became the first Venezuelan to win a PGA Tour event. Vegas nearly won the very next week at Torrey Pines, holding a share of the lead on the back-nine during the final round and ultimately finishing tied for third. He became the first rookie to lead the FedEx Cup Standings and moved to a career high 69th in the world ranking at the time.

He then suffered a shoulder injury which kept him sidelined for most of the 2013 season and then lost his playing card.

Vegas won’t have to worry about a place to play for the next two years after his victory at Glen Abbey. Despite being sandwiched between the Open Championship and PGA Championship, the Canadian Open still attracted a strong field which included defending champion Jason Day, U.S. Open winner Dustin Johnson and Ernie Els among others.

Johnson was looking to make history by winning the U.S. and Canadian Open in the same year for the first time since Tiger Woods did the double in 2000. He eagled the 16th and birdied the 18th but his 11-under total fell just short.

Another player looking to make history was Canadian amateur Jared du Toit.

Du Toit, an Arizona State University senior from Kimberley, British Colombia could’ve been the first native Canadian winner since 1914 and the first amateur to win on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson, another Sun Devil, won in Tucson in 1991. He closed strong with birdies at 16 and 18 but it was too little too late by then, signing for a final-round 71 and tie for ninth. No paycheck of course but lots of memories and valuable learning lessons for du Toit.

Vegas did cash in, handsomely, to the tune of $1,062,000 and a spot in next week’s PGA Championship at Baltustrol. It’s the largest check of his career and the win also comes with a two-year exemption on tour and another trip down Magnolia Lane next April.

Vegas dedicated the win to his family and to his fellow countrymen of Venezuela, whom he will represent at the upcoming Rio Olympics.