By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
LAS VEGAS -- Jhonattan Vegas, making just his second PGA TOUR start since February, shot 3-under 68 on Saturday at TPC Summerlin and was at 10-under 203 (68-67-68) through three rounds at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
"I'm feeling good. I'm not 100 percent yet," he said. "I felt the shoulder getting a little bit weaker at the end of the round today, but the best part is that things are trending in the right way. I'm feeling like the old me. I just have to keep rehabbing it. I'm hitting the ball as long as I used to hit it, so I have my power back."
Vegas is playing this season on a medical extension. He has 20 starts, including this week, to earn 369 FedExCup points or $595,483 to regain his status. He missed the cut at last week's Frys.com Open (76-75). Vegas preceded that event with rehab starts in the four Web.com Tour Finals events, missing two cuts and finishing no better than 32nd.
The upcoming Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation in January 2014 will represent the three-year anniversary of Vegas' first career TOUR win, which came in just his second start of his rookie season. It was a rapid rise for Vegas, who grew up playing golf in oil camps in Venezuela before coming to the United States in high school.
He said the shoulder started bothering him in the middle of his rookie season. He had two top-10s in 25 starts in his second year, and decided to have surgery after missing the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February, his third start of 2013.
"I've been off for (seven) months," Vegas said. "When you're off for that long, it's tough getting your mental game, your physical game, every part of the game ready to compete to win golf tournaments. The good thing is that my confidence is back. My strength is back."
Vegas finished fifth at the 2011 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in his rookie season and 46th last year.
Jhonattan Vegas had surgery to repair damage to a tendon in his left shoulder onThursday and could miss the rest of the 2013 season.
The surgery was performed by Dr. Richard Hawkins at the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Greenville, S.C. Hawkins has operated on many prominent athletes, including Greg Norman.
Vegas tweeted on Friday that the operation was a "total success." He spent one night in the hospital and is now back home in Houston to recuperate.
"I feel like a had to put an end to this problem because it was affecting my game. Im going to work hard to come back stronger than ever," Vegas tweeted. "Thanks for your kind support. I will miss you guys. :)"
Vegas had played in three events this year and missed the cut in each one. The plan is to make sure he is completely healed before he returns to competition, likely when the PGA TOUR's new wrap-around schedule begins in October.
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here .
2013 PREVIEW: Jhonattan Vegas wasn’t able to duplicate his rookie success but his two top-10s last year did come in high-profile events. Even so, he ended the 2012 season on the outside looking in -- the only player who was inside the top 125 in the FedExCup standings at the start of the Wyndham Championship to be knocked out. So getting back into the Playoffs will be top priority this year.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: The affable Venezuelan posted two top-10s last year, and both came at high-profile events at THE PLAYERS and AT&T National. Vegas was the only player to shoot par or better in all four rounds at Congressional as he tied for fourth. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: I have a vivid memory of talking with Jhonattan on the putting green at The Sony Open. He explained how he went to a shorter shaft putter because his arms were so long. The change helped; he went from 157th to 99th in strokes-gained putting. Jhonattan remains one of the longer hitters on TOUR, averaging 304.6 yards per drive.-- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: All in all, a typical sophomore regression, specifically because he tore out of the gates early as a rookie in 2011. What was most intriguing this year was how he flashed some mettle on TPC Sawgrass (THE PLAYERS) and Congressional Country Club (AT&T National), recording top-10s on each track. The Venezuelan still missed 12 cuts, but he illustrated marked improvement with his putting. Best reserved for long-term formats where he deserves a roster spot, but salary gamers should consider a nibble at just $801K.. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
|Best finishes||T4||AT&T National|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 13
Rounds played: 77
Top-10 finishes: 2
Money List rank: 113th
Driving distance: 10th
Driving accuracy: 180th
Greens in regulation: 75th
Strokes gained-putting: 99th
Scoring average: 145th
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
What is your prediction for Jhonattan Vegas in 2013? Fill out the form below and let us know.
Following an opening-round 65, Jhonattan Vegas reflects on his play in the 2012 Frys.com Open with Dennis Paulson from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
When Jhonattan Vegas won in his first year on the PGA TOUR -- in just his second start, no less -- he thought he would win every year.
”It doesn't work that way,” Vegas said Thursday. “To be honest, it's been kind of a mediocre year. I feel like I haven't been 100 percent with any part of my game. Putting has been bad. Ball-striking hasn't been good. When you combine that, you won't get that many good results.”
In 23 starts, Vegas has missed the cut almost as many times (11) as he made it (12). He also had just two top 10s and missed the FedExCup Playoffs, finishing 126th in points.
Fast forward to his opening round at CordeValle, however, and Vegas has a chance to make up for lost time after a 65 on Thursday.
This is just Vegas’ second start since missing the Playoffs. The nearly two months off gave Vegas time to recover from a shoulder injury, which he has battled since college.
“It's feeling better,” he said. “Not quite as good as I'd like it, but [time off] definitely helped.
“I think I pushed it a little too hard at the beginning of the year. For some reason I haven't really been able to heal it completely. The good thing is that I am able to play; I just feel that my golf swing is not the same. I can't turn to the ball as good as I used to.”
He did well enough at CordeValle, however, with seven birdies and just one bogey.
Thursday’s opening round was a good sign, too. This is the second straight week Vegas has started fast -- he shot a pair of 68s in the first two rounds in Las Vegas before ultimately finishing in a tie for 46th.
”I'm in my second year here and trying to play 35 weeks a year,” Vegas said. “That's a lot of golf. I haven't really rested [my shoulder] enough to let it heal. I feel like I'm getting better, but it's not 100 percent. I’m going to work on that in the off-season.”
Jhonattan Vegas had seven birdies, including three in a row at one point, and just one bogey on his way to a 65 and the early lead in the opening round at CordeValle.
This marks the second straight week that Vegas has gotten off to a good start. Last week in Las Vegas, he opened with a pair of 68s before a final-round 73 and a tie for 46th.
Vegas entered this week 112th on the money list, though he is exempt through the 2013 season for his win at last year’s Bob Hope Classic.
One shot behind Vegas is Charles Howell III, while Jeff Maggert is another stroke back at 4 under.
The pairings have been unveiled for this week’s PGA TOUR Matchups Game on Facebook. You can check out the Matchups for the Wyndham Championship below, or on the PGA TOUR’s Facebook page.
Participants have until 6 a.m. ET Thursday to make their picks. Log on to the PGA TOUR Facebook page and click the Matchups link to make your picks for this week, or to sign up.
|Webb Simpson vs. Bill Haas||Wake Forest alums do battle in their home state|
|Carl Pettersson vs. Ryan Moore||Two past Wyndham champs ready for more at Sedgefield|
|Davis Love III vs. Jason Dufner||Ryder Cup Captain keeps close eye on Ryder Cup rookie|
|Sergio Garcia vs. Trevor Immelman||Two international stars are looking to kick-start their season|
|Jhonattan Vegas vs. Brendan Steele||Both need a big week to get into the FedExCup Playoffs|
Five players -- Troy Matteson, Bo Van Pelt, Jhonattan Vegas, Stuart Appleby and Charl Schwartzel -- currently share the clubhouse lead at 5-under 65 in the opening round of the RBC Canadian Open, where they’re playing lift, clean and place after an overnight storm swept through the area and soaked the golf course.
Here’s what some of the leaders had to say about the opening round:
Vegas on the course conditions: “It is really soft. You can really throw anything at the pins and it's going to stop there.”
Vegas on how much of a difference there is between playing lift, clean and place and playing the ball down: “You take the doubt out of your mind. When you have your eye on the ball, you don't know which way the ball is going to go. So cleaning it takes it completely out of your mind. You can put a good spin on it, and usually you can get a result. It's huge.”
Appleby, who shot a 59 in the final round to win at The Greenbrier two years ago, on the similarities between that course and this one: “The greens, probably similar speed. The topography of this course is a lot hillier, a lot more demanding I think on the tee shots. The golf course now at Greenbrier is a lot more demanding than it was when I shot it.”
Schwartzel on being healthy again after missing a month between the U.S. and British Open due to a rib injury: “Before I had the injury, that second Masters before the British Open I thought that was the best I've hit the ball in my career. I hit it so good. Then the injury came and I was pretty upset about it because I thought I was really close to breaking through and winning again. I had to sit around for three weeks, three-and-a-half weeks without being able to hit a ball. I had sort of a rushed recuperation for the British Open, wasn't quite 100 percent. But at the British Open I didn't hit it as good as I did when I took off, but I kept practicing, and on Monday when I came here, things started falling into place.”
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Tiger Woods is retaking his place at the top of the golf pantheon. His win on Sunday at the AT&T National – his third in seven starts -- gave him a PGA TOUR-leading three wins on the season, the FedExCup points lead and solo second place on the all-time TOUR victory list.
Where is it all coming from? The added “reps”, as Woods frequently cites? The work with swing coach Sean Foley? The weather? (Tiger’s an especially strong player in the heat.)
The answer may be simpler than that. He’s simply rolling the ball better.
Woods was ninth at Congressional in Strokes Gained-Putting with his Nike Method 001 putter, picking up nearly a shot and a half on the greens for the week. He’s now 14th in Strokes Gained-Putting for the year and 11th in Total Putting, a stat that combines putting averages from various distances.
“I feel like I really controlled the putter well this week,” Woods said. “I had a lot of good putts, and I had a lot of -- for some reason I had a lot of putts that were downhill, big, breaking putts. I hit a lot of good putts this week.”
The Method putter features Nike’s polymetal groove technology, which gets the ball rolling with forward spin more quickly after impact.
Woods wasn’t the only one with a big week at AT&T with a Method 001. Jhonattan Vegas finished T4, his best of the season.
D2 DEBUTS: Titleist unveiled its new 913 drivers for pros at AT&T, and 14 of the 34 players who teed up Titleist drivers in competition used the new models.
Seung-Yul Noh, using a 7.5-degree 913D3, finished highest with a T4, while Nick Watney finished 10th with a 10.5-degree 913D3. Brendon de Jonge, the 54-hole leader at Congressional, ended tied for 11th with his 9.5-degree 913 D3.
The newest members of Titleist’s 900 family (“9” is the designation for metalwoods and “13” is the model year) feature some cosmetic differences and a weight cartridge at the rear of the clubhead. Like the previous 910 models, Titleist’s SureFit Tour hosel helps a player dial in the ideal lie and loft.
There are two models, the D2 and D3, with the D2 having a slightly bigger head. Of the 14 pros at AT&T, 11 played the D3 and three (Bud Cauley, Tom Gillis and John Merrick) chose the D2.
Rory McIlroy put an 8.5-degree 913D3 at the Irish Open, finishing in a tie for 10th.
BEER!: For those of you who consider beer as essential “equipment” for your weekend rounds, there’s a new brew inspired by Sam Snead.
Slammin’ Sam is a craft-brewed American lager developed off a proprietary recipe and made in Wisconsin by Stevens Point Brewery. It debuts this week at The Greenbrier Resort, which is hosting the PGA TOUR’s Greenbrier Classic.
“It makes sense for Slammin’ Sam beer to be introduced here,” said Jeff Kmiec, president and managing director of The Greenbrier Resort. “Sam Snead called The Greenbrier his professional home for more than 60 years and I think he’d be happy to know guests will savor a beer that bears his nickname.”
The beer’s packaging features famous images of Snead and is available in cans, bottles and kegs. The company plans to launch the product soon at other golf resorts around North America.
For more information, check out a fun Q&A with the founder of Slammin’ Sam here.
LOOKING AT LYTHAM: Justin Rose and Justin Leonard had new hybrids built in the TaylorMade truck at Congressional, purposely for the British Open later this month. Rose got a 16-degree Rescue 11, designed for him to hit piercing shots in the wind. Leonard got two 17-degree Rescue 11s and compared the two during practice rounds at Congressional.
BITS: Martin Laird put a new TaylorMade Ghost Spider IB belly putter in play at Congressional, replacing his longtime Ghost Tour DA-12 belly model. He finished T11. … John Mallinger also finished T11 at AT&T, playing a new set of TaylorMade Tour Preferred MC irons. He’s moving away from an older model of TP irons which had “pretty dead” grooves, in his words. … Kevin Stadler had never played a 5-wood but tested a Callaway Razr Fit model and liked how it fit a gap between his 3-wood and hybrid. He tested it, found that he could hit his standard high cut with it, and put it in play at AT&T.
WINNER’S BAG: Woods at the AT&T
Driver: Nike VR Tour (8.5 degree, Graphite Design DI 6X shaft)
Fairway wood: Nike VR Pro Limited Edition 3-wood (15 degrees); Nike SQ II 5-wood (19 degrees)
Irons: Nike VR Pro Blades (3-PW)
Wedges: Nike VR Pro (56, 60 degrees)
Putter: Nike Method 001
Ball: Nike ONE Tour D
This Sunday is Father’s Day. Each day this week, PGATOUR.COM will take a look at some unique father-son moments involving PGA TOUR pros. Here is today’s Ultra Father-Son Moment presented by Michelob Ultra:
2011 Bob Hope Classic winner Jhonattan Vegas was thrilled to have his father by his side when he won his first PGA TOUR event, and the emotional embrace they shared will never be forgotten.