Jhonattan Vegas made a 13-foot par putt on the second playoff hole to win the Bob Hope Classic on Sunday, holding off Gary Woodland for his first PGA Tour victory.
The first Venezuelan to win a PGA Tour event, the rookie won in La Quinta, Calif., in just his fifth tour start despite taking a penalty stroke for hitting his tee shot in the water on the 92nd hole of the five-day tournament. Vegas capitalized when Woodland made two poor chip shots, pumping his fist in celebration after his putt fell.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Vegas, the first rookie to win the 52-year history of the Palm Springs, Calif.-based event. “It’s something you dream about, but you have to make it happen.”
Vegas and Woodland eliminated defending champion Bill Haas with birdies on the first playoff hole after all three finished at 27-under 333.
Vegas’ victory should give a boost to his sport in his native country, where it is unpopular and criticized by President Hugo Chavez. Vegas left home at 17, moving to Houston to play golf and study English before playing at the University of Texas.
“I hope they know about the story, and that it is possible to get to the PGA Tour and win,” Vegas said. “I hope people realize that all over the world.”
Vegas and Woodland closed with 3-under 69s and Haas shot a 66.
Woodland and Vegas shared the lead after each of the final three rounds, and Woodland got into the playoff with a birdie on the final regulation hole. The former college basketball player from Kansas also was seeking his first PGA Tour win.
“Seemed like we were out there forever,” Woodland said.
With light fading, Vegas shook his head in dismay after dropping his tee shot in the water on the second playoff hole – but Woodland showed a bigger case of nerves. His approach shot landed in a bunker, and his sand shot trickled to the opposite side of the green.
After his penalty drop, Vegas put an exceptional approach shot near the hole before holing a $900,000 putt.
Martin Kaymer passed Tiger Woods for the No. 2 ranking in the world after winning the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. The German won the European Tour event by eight shots after shooting a 6-under 66. John Cook had a back-nine run of five birdies to shoot his second straight 8-under 64 and take a two-shot win over Tom Lehman in the Champions Tour’s season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii. Karen Racke, an attorney in Edmonton, Alberta, became the first female president of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.