What they said: Jhonattan Vegas

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January 23, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Bob Hope Classic transcript archive

JOE CHEMYCZ: Like to welcome Jhonattan Vegas, the Bob Hope classic 2011 champion.

Jhonattan, just talk about the day and the emotions and everything else. Gary was in here, chatted about what a grind it was today, and it was a long day and an arduous day. And you survived it all the best you can. And now you're a champion on the PGA TOUR.

Talk but your emotions first of all to start with.

JHONATTAN VEGAS: Well, it's hard to describe the emotions right now. Especially throughout the day. It was really up. I was really excited for it, from the first hole all the way through pretty much at the beginning of the back nine. So I was feeling great.

Then it started kind of getting a little loose out there and I started just hitting a couple of bad shots here and there. But I just kept fighting. That's kind of what I told myself this morning, that it wasn't going to be easy. But I just kept fighting throughout.

I made some really good up-and-downs, I made some great putts coming in. So I was feeling great. Just had to make par on the last hole, and I decided to make a bogey and just keep the agony going.

But it was a fight, thank God for this, because he pretty much gave me all the strength to fight today. And a win is a win. I know it was a little ugly at the end, but it's been a great week and I'm really excited.

JOE CHEMYCZ: You seemed to make every crucial putt on the back nine in regulation. Talk about your putting.

JHONATTAN VEGAS: I guess that my putting is -- I guess it's the best it's been ever. I spent a good amount of time yesterday or last night with my dad on the putting green really finding a groove for the putting today. The putting was phenomenal today. I made some really good putts. I guess that the 3-putt on the last hole doesn't really make how great putting, how my putting has been all day. But so that's the key for the whole week and that's the reason why I won.

Q. First of all congratulations. What does this mean to you personally and to your home country as well of Venezuela??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: I think it means everything for me right now. Just to think about winning on the PGA TOUR, that's something. But just to make it happen is something else. And it's a crazy feeling.

It was tough today to kind of just keep, stay neutral and play golf, and that's why.

And to my country, I hope this means a lot. I really hope it means change. I hope it means people changing about the sport. And some people get a little different idea of the sport.

Q. Can you describe the last hole? Did you feel your tournament was over after the tee shot? And then describe the shot into the green and the putt.

JHONATTAN VEGAS: The last the playoff?

Q. Yeah.

JHONATTAN VEGAS: I thought I put a good swing. I just pulled it a little bit. The ball went in the water. But as I was walking into the fairway, I just kept thinking that I still had a chance to hit it on the green and make a putt for par. I knew how hard it is to just close it out.

And Gary, he pretty much was almost in the same position that I am, that we are young guys here, so I knew how tough it was going to be. So I kept fighting, kept telling myself that there's still a chance and just was able to just talk to my caddie, put a good shot into the green, and I was able to make a great putt.

Q. What was the yardage, what was the club, and also the putt distance??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: I had 160 to the green, to the flag, actually. And I hit like a three-quarter 9-iron from the rough, perfectly where I wanted it. And the ball just hit on the right fringe and kicked, I guess, 15 feet, and then I made it.

Q. Couple questions, first did you know you hit it in the water as soon as you hit it or did you have hope that maybe not??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: I thought that it had a chance. I thought it had a chance. But I just hit it a little too far left and the hole was going left, and I saw the ball go in the water. But I knew that it wasn't the end and I guess it proved to not be that way.

Q. What putting tips did your dad give you last night??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: He just told me to relax and just grip the putter a little softer and just let it happen, and I think that was huge today. Because I think sometimes we get really tight with putting and we start hitting everything right or left. So I just kind of let things happen and that's kind of what I did today.

Q. How good a putter is he??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: He's a really good putter. That's I guess something that makes him I guess pretty good. So sometimes you can see yourself, and when you see somebody that has seen you all your life, even if he doesn't know about golf, he can tell you, you look this way, relax. And that's kind of what happened last night, and it turned out to be pretty good today.

Q. The first playoff hole, your third shot, the little chip shot on to the green, how difficult of a shot was that and do you know that ball hit the cup??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: I saw it hit the cup. I knew it wasn't a really hard shot because you see the slope. I mean, right in front of the green, everything just goes towards that, towards the green. So I just said, Just get it over the bunker, and the ball's just going to roll down all the way to the flag.

And that's what it did. It hit the hole, but I knew that I just had to get it over the bunker.

Q. On that putt, you just missed a putt on that green a couple minutes earlier, did you just have to erase that from your memory on both that putt and the one on the second playoff hole??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: To be honest, I knew that I had been hitting really good putts all day long. And the good thing is that I feel -- I never thought about the one I missed. So I just looked at the line that I really wanted and hit it. I didn't really take much time. That's something I guess that I work a lot with my teacher, just to really take less time over the ball and execute and just hit it just the way I feel.

So that's what I did over those two putts, so it turned out to be pretty good, thanks to God.

Q. How are they going to celebrate your championship at home??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: You know, we're just going to -- I don't know. I don't know. That's something that I really thought much about it. I'm just trying to enjoy it as much as I can.

Q. Are you going to motivate more young people to go into the sport??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: I hope. So I hope. So I hope that they kind of know about the story and how -- especially that it's possible to get here to the PGA TOUR and win. I hope people realize that all over the world, and I'm here proving that right now.

Q. You had said sharing the lead earlier in the tournament you mentioned that you sleeping wasn't going to be a problem for you. You mentioned that's one thing you're good at. You've been enjoying the process coming to today. Did you still have a good night's sleep last night? Did you feel a little bit more nervous today? Was it something you were able to enjoy or was it more nerve wracking?

JHONATTAN VEGAS: I slept great all the way until 8 o'clock this morning. I don't have any issues sleeping. I definitely felt nervous coming into today, but I usually try to take that energy and use it in a positive way instead of a negative way. Sometimes it's really hard to do, to use all those nerves and put it in a positive way.

But that's kind of the way I look at being nervous. If I could use that energy and use it in a positive way, you know, things can turn out to be pretty good.

Q. I know it's early in the year, but to win so soon this season, what does that mean to you just kind of going forward, it's got to be a load off your shoulders, but what is it like??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: It makes life a lot easier, definitely. Just to have a win, just to be able to not worry about keeping your card or not worrying about what's next week going to look like. That's a total weight off my shoulders so I can focus on getting better and practicing and just trying my best for the rest of the year.

Q. It is so hard to win out here. What about you personally do you think, your makeup, your attitude, allowed you to win this early in a PGA TOUR career? Because very few guys are able to do it.

JHONATTAN VEGAS: I think being positive. To me, positive has been the key for me all throughout my golfing career. I don't let things put me down. Even as bad as they are, I always try to look at the positive way of things.

And that's kind of what I did today. It was rough. Somebody could really got down after 3-putting the 18th hole, as soon as I 3-putted, I just told myself, You still have a chance, still have a chance, don't put your head down, you still have a chance.

So that's kind what I did. And even throughout when I hit it in the water on 10, I just said, You still have a chance, just keep fighting, keep fighting.

And I think that that's going to be what let me win this week.

Q. Is there anything in particular that you point to that made you that way, other than human nature, early experiences or anything??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: I guess life for me hasn't been always the best. I've had to fight to get where I am. Just coming from Venezuela all the way here, not knowing the language, having to do with going to school, being at the school, not knowing anyone, having to fight to graduate, graduate, and then get here.

So it's always been a fight. I feel like I'm a fighter and if I set a goal in front of me, I'm just going to die just to get there and just fight hard just to accomplish what I set out in my mind.

Q. You touched on the 90th hole and missing that putt and a lot of people said, Oh, there it goes, you're leading all the way. Did you instantly -- did you get down and force yourself back up or did you say, Okay, it just happens, or I mean you have the tournament won, and you 3-putt. And then you come back and win it. But what's your immediate feeling when that putt goes by??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: To be honest, when I missed that putt coming back for par, I just said, Just put this one in and you will still have a chance. That's the first thing that came to my mind, You still have a chance, we still have a chance, you're playing great golf.

And that's kind of what my caddie and I talk about, we still have a chance, we still have a chance. Just really repeating that in my head.

I hit a good tee shot, didn't hit the best of second shot the first playoff hole, but I just kept fighting. I wasn't going to give up, I knew this was a great opportunity, and just by doing that I think that I won this week.

Q. The first putt on the 90th hole, just go after it too much??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: I thought it was going to be slower because it looked up the hill. And then I knew that it's late in the afternoon, so it had to be slower. But I guess going away from the mountains, I kind of forgot that a little bit and I hit it a little bit too hard, I guess nine or 10 feet by.

Q. Seven feet, seven inches, is what they said on Shot Link.

JHONATTAN VEGAS: There you go.

((Laughter.))

Q. What does it mean to have your parents here to see this, was it cool to have them walking with you and to be here for this??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: It's special. It's special just to have them for the first win here. I guess that God put all the elements together for this to happen. That's kind of the way I see it. They have been a great support throughout the week. I saw my mom praying and crying and just going crazy, and that's the kind of emotion that I think I get from them. Just by having that, I just make things happen.

Q. Is this the first time they have been with you or are they with you usually or is this unusual??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: This is the first. They came at the end of last year to enjoy the, I guess, graduating from the Nationwide Tour. But I guess it was second or third time on the PGA TOUR event. I guess both of them, second time on PGA TOUR event. So they are enjoying it and what better way for them to be here than a win.

Q. And looking forward to the Masters now??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: Hey, I'm really excited. I know it's a dream that my dad and I guess my American friend have to go to the Masters, just to walk around. And I mean that they -- that's kind of what they told me. It's like before I die, just please get me to the Masters. So I just got to thank God one more time for making that happen.

Q. So I guess they will be there for that one??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: Oh, I'll guarantee you they will be there. God willing.

((Laughter.))

Q. This is maybe a little bit of a strange question, but growing up in Venezuela, did you have any idea who Bob Hope is??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: Not really. I guess that I started knowing who he was when I got here to the U.S. and started playing professional golf. But, no. But I guess I know now, and I'll know him forever.

JOE CHEMYCZ: All right. That's it. Thank you.

JHONATTAN VEGAS: Thank you, guys, appreciate it appreciate your support for the week.

((Applause.))

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