By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Jhonattan Vegas was on the outside looking in at The Presidents Cup in November. The Venezuelan finished 30th on the list for the International team – too low for an automatic spot -- and did not get one of Greg Norman's Captain's picks at Royal Melbourne.
Still, he watched on TV with frustrated interest as the Internationals suffered another loss to the U.S. And even though the next Presidents Cup isn't until 2013 at Muirfield Village, Vegas doesn't think it's too early to start setting his sights on making the International team.
The players who automatically qualify are the top 10 International players (excluding those eligible for the European Ryder Cup team) from the Official World Golf Ranking as of a specified date late in the 2013 season.
Vegas was ranked 187th in the world going into last year's then-Bob Hope Classic (now the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation). But after his surprise win – the reason he’s in this week’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions field -- he moved up 101 spots to 86th in the world.
He struggled for a stretch after that, however, as the added demands that come being a TOUR winner and his interesting background story challenged his and his support team's organization skills.
"I had so much on my plate," he said, "that I wasn't really ready for it."
He's now 111th in the world but feels like he's in much better control of his game and his surroundings. And with Muirfield Village two years away, he has plenty of time to move up and grab an automatic spot on the International team. Ryo Ishikawa, who grabbed the final automatic spot this year, is currently ranked 51st in the world – 60 spots ahead -- so Vegas also has his work cut out for him.
"My goal this year is just to really play consistent, just the whole year," Vegas said.
If he does that, then he may very well achieve one of his other goals in 2013.