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March 30 2011

2:49 PM

Vegas’ rock star season continues

Jhonny Vegas has the name of a rock star and the appeal, especially this week in Houston.

Vegas “I think just the whole state of Texas, it’s been pretty home feeling for me,” said Vegas, who played collegiately at the University of Texas in  Austin. “When I'm here, I feel comfortable.”

This week for Vegas should be a lot like his week at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at TPC Blue Monster at Doral, where there’s a large Venezuelan population in the surrounding communities. In Houston, Vegas will have plenty of friends and family on hand for support. He’s also familiar with Redstone Golf Club.

“I've been able to play quite often and it's a course that I think suits my game really well,” said Vegas, who earlier this year won in just his fifth career start. “It's such a long golf course, you have to hit it long and straight and if you're able to do that, you have pretty good advantage over a lot of people.”

While Vegas isn’t exactly the straightest driver of the golf ball -- he’s 178th on the PGA TOUR in fairways hit at just over 51 percent -- he does indeed hit it long, averaging 294.6 yards off the tee (25th on TOUR).

Vegas has also had a remarkable rookie season and is an early candidate for Rookie of the Year honors with four top-25s in nine starts, including his victory at the Bob Hope Classic.

Not bad for a guy who showed up at Texas barely able to speak English as a 17-year-old.

But the college experience was critical to Vegas’ development on and off the course.

”One, because it just gave me a lot of tools to prepare myself for this,” Vegas said. “For being here on the PGA TOUR because I was able to learn the language a little bit better and I was able to develop my game to a good extent and prepare myself a little bit more for the PGA TOUR. Just a great opportunity.”

While Vegas has had to learn to deal with everything from learning the language to more recently managing the demands on his time, his confidence hasn’t wavered.

“I knew that I could win here,” Vegas said. “I didn't know it was going to be that quick. But you never know when things are going to happen.

“I'm going to go ahead and try to win. That's kind of what I do every week. I know it doesn't happen every time. I feel my game is headed the right way, been playing good, some up and down weeks but still have confidence and playing great. We're going to go ahead and win. Only God knows what's going to happen.” -- Brian Wacker

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