Jhonattan Vegas not only has the greatest name on the PGA Tour, but he’s also got game. Despite bogeying his final hole at Nicklaus Private, Vegas managed to fire a five-under 67 for a two-day total of 13-under and a share of the lead with Boo Weekley at the Bob Hope Classic.
The Venezuelan native first learned about golf from his father. Jhonny picked up whatever he could find — often a broomstick — and swung at everything from plastic balls to rocks.
“(I started) hitting everything around the house, breaking windows and all kinds of stuff around,” said Vegas in his post-round press conference. “So that’s kind of how my game started, just by looking at my dad. He’s been always a good and big fan of golf and so just by looking at him I just started doing it.”
The Hope is the Nationwide Tour grad’s fifth career start on the PGA Tour. He made the cut at last week’s Sony Open in Honolulu, Hawaii, but didn’t qualify for the final two rounds because the washed-out first round forced the cut to be reduced to the number closest to 60. Vegas shot 67-71 to place T57 and collected official money.
Golf isn’t the most popular sport in Venezuela. In fact, President Hugo Chavez has gone out of his way to shut down courses.
“I’d love the chance to tell people about golf in Venezuela,” said Vegas, a former Texas Longhorn. “(Chavez) has always said that golf is for elite people, I guess, and as we all know here, it’s not that way. But I guess he’s got that mentality, so I really hope to sit down with him and talk to him, and tell him it’s not that way.”
Weekley birdied the last two holes on Thursday at Nicklaus Private. Asked if he’d met Vegas before, Boo replied, “First time I ever shook hands with him right there (as I passed him on the way to the interview room). You got to show a little respect, you know. I mean, he’s on the leaderboard.”
Meanwhile, Charles Howell III shot back-to-back 66s to trail Vegas and Weekley by one stroke, along with Chris Couch. First-round leader Derek Lamely had a rollercoaster day, which included a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 No. 2 at Nicklaus Private.
Brian Davis fired a six-under 66 at the Palmer Course, carding seven birdies and one bogey. I walked with him for his seven final holes and the guy made the game look effortless.
“It was so easy,” said Davis after his round. “I don’t know what makes this game hard. I played great today, so it was good.
“The start of the year I usually struggle because I take two months off and don’t touch a club, but this year I kept playing, so I’m a little bit more in tune with what’s going on and obviously it showed today.”
Davis, along with rookie Keegan Bradley, are two shots off the lead.
(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)