Cleat Geeks

The 19th Hole: Vegas cashes in Canada

Five years ago, Jhonattan Vegas burst on the golf scene by winning his second PGA Tour start. Things seemed like they might be coming easy for the top Venezuelan player in the game.JhonattanVegasWinsCanadianOpen

Then came a rash of injuries and setbacks that kept him not just out of contention but totally off the golf course for long stretches. But those setbacks did not include a hit to Vegas’ attitude, as he stayed positive, stayed patient and worked hard when he was able.

Vegas got a big payoff for those hard times Sunday, as a final-round 64 led to a one-shot victory in the RBC Canadian Open.

“Obviously putting aside the injuries, it’s just hard to win out here,” Vegas told reporters after his round. “You have to play well from the beginning all the way to the end, and obviously like today, I mean, you have to have things work out your way to win.”

Vegas was part of a huge pack at the top. At one point in Sunday’s final round, 14 players were within three shots of the lead.

Playing almost an hour in front of the leaders after starting five shots behind, Vegas got rolling early, scoring five birdies in a row on holes 2-6 to climb near the top of the standings. Then he finished strong as well with birdies on the last three holes to take the lead at 12-under par.

Then came a waiting game, and the challengers kept falling short. Ricky Barnes led for a while but struggled the last five holes. Martin Laird’s final birdie putt slid just wide. Dustin Johnson came up inches short on an eagle chip at the 18th. Brandt Snedeker needed eagle at the last to tie but could only manage par.

Most agonizing was journeyman Steve Wheatcroft, who was tied with Vegas with three holes to play. But he failed to birdie the par-five 16th, bogeyed the 17th and then bladed a greenside sand shot into the water at the last to ruin his chances.

“It’s a crazy sport,” Vegas said. “You’ve just got to keep your head down and play hard at every shot.”

JaredDuToitThe feel-good story of the week from Jared du Toit, a 21-year-old amateur from western Canada. Playing in front of an adoring crowd of countrymen, the senior-to-be at Arizona State kept near the top of the leaderboard all week, earning a spot in the day’s final group with Snedeker.

His 1-under-par 71 left him at 9-under and a tie for ninth, quite a showing on what’s far and away the biggest stage he’s ever taken.

“Every tee box, every green, everyone was clapping, hollering, “Go Canada!” du Toit said. “It was truly unbelievable. I’m on cloud nine right now. I probably could have shot a hundred out here and they would have been behind my back all day.”

Johnson, Laird and rookie Jon Rahm – a teammate of du Toit at ASU last year – finished in a three-way tie for second behind Vegas whose win, among other things, means a change in plans for this week, as it earns him a spot in the PGA Championship.


We had a shot. We really did.

Brandt Snedeker – Sneds had the 54-hole lead but just couldn’t make the birdies down the stretch that Vegas managed. 10-under, tied for 5th

Matt Kuchar – This guy is seriously like an ATM with all the high finishes he comes up with week after week. 9-under, tied for 9th

Danny Lee – He made a dramatic final-hole eagle to make the cut Friday, then made himself some money with a strong final round Sunday. 4-under, tied for 32nd

Sam Saunders – It was just an OK week for Saunders, who needs to play well in August to reach the FedEx Cup playoffs. 5-over, 75th

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