What they said: Jhonattan Vegas

January 05, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Hyundai Tournament of Champions transcript archive

JOHN BUSH: We welcome Jhonattan Vegas, making his first trip to the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Welcome to Kapalua. Can we get your thoughts on being here?

JHONATTAN VEGAS: Yes, I mean, you know, it's good to be back actually, and especially to a tournament like this, how much fun to come to the start of the year, a tournament like this, 28 players, all winners and in Hawai'i. It really doesn't get any better. I was actually pretty excited to come here, and it's been what I thought, and even a little bit more of this place, it's awesome. I really, really love it and I can't wait for an awesome week, too.

JOHN BUSH: Talk about your win last year, and recently you went to Venezuela, and from what I hear, quite a reception that you received.

JHONATTAN VEGAS: Everything started last year, at the Hope, crazy week, really fun, though. I always knew that if you win here but that it would happen that quick, you know, wasn't really prepared for that to happen so quick.

But it was fun. I really enjoyed it. Just learned a lot from it. You know, it wasn't all good, but at the same time, I had to deal with a lot of stuff that I wasn't ready for, or, you know, my team wasn't really ready for, which was a challenge.

At the same time, it was really fun, really enjoyable and a lot of things came with that, really positive things, and you know, to play the Masters, PGA Championship, got me here, so it's very nice. It's been a fun journey so far and looking to make it even better this year.

But it made it even fun when I went back to Venezuela. It was pretty crazy. I didn't even recognize myself when I went there, because everything, you know, everywhere I went, everything that I did people were so excited and so welcoming, which was kind of fun to receive out of the country.

But at the same time, I hung out a lot of baseball stars, Major Leaguers, and surprised how into golf they were and just following my career. It's fun to hang out with those guys and really enjoyed it.

Q. After you won, what was the most challenging thing about the rest of the year, that you alluded to earlier, that may have affected your game a bit; was there one or two particular things??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: There were a few things, I would say. You know, mainly just really get organized. That was the biggest challenge, because I mean, I had so much on my plate that I wasn't really ready for it.

I wasn't really thinking that I had to do the media, I had to, you know, a lot of Pro Ams and a lot of the other stuff that comes down with winning, which you know, I was just used to playing golf and going on a plane and just hitting the ball and then hit it again.

Then when you have to deal with so many activities that you have to do outside of the golf course, it makes it complicated just to focus on golf. That was a challenge a little bit. And that's kind of why as soon as I two or three weeks after I won, I kind of was so tired and so overwhelmed from everything, that I wasn't really playing as well.

But you know, the good thing is that I learned from it and hopefully next time it comes, I will be a little more prepared.

Q. You've had an opportunity to play here; what do you like about golf course??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: The thing about this course is that you have to have every shot in your bag. It's not just about hitting it high and stop it right next to the hole. You have to have every shot. You have to be able to hit it low, you have to be able to hold it into the wind, you have to be able to hit it high sometimes when it's downwind. You have to think about so many things when you leave the ball, because when you have a downhill, downgrain, downwind, there's no chance you're going to get it close to the hole.

So there's so many things that you have to think on this course, where you place the ball, what kind of chip you want to have, where you want to miss it, there's so many things that you really have to think of here; that it makes the course really, really fun. With the elevation, hit it down, hit it up, sidehill, downhill; it's so much fun to play golf that way, instead of just playing the a simple shot from a flat lie to a flat green.

Q. Is that the kind of golf you grew up playing, kind of what you were just talking about there, playing the grain on the greens and whatnot, is that kind of the style that you grew up playing? Is that why you like it so much?

JHONATTAN VEGAS: It is. Actually it is. Venezuela, the majority of the golf courses are really undulated, and so you grew up playing on conditions like that, where you have to you have to hit from sidehills, you have to hit so, it's fun. I would say it makes golf a little more fun and a little more challenging.

And actually, I've really enjoyed it. And from going to school in Texas, in Austin, playing with the wind all the time; the wind is supposed to blow all the time, so that makes it a little more fun, too. So it should be a fun week.

Q. You seemed to have some good finishes late in the year. Did something return to your game, or did you find something late in the season??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: You know what, to be honest, not really. That was just just kept working, kept working through the good and bad, and I was just trying to find myself find the peace that I had at the beginning of the year. You know golf; that it's always so mental. It's all about getting your head in the right place and doing the little things good. And that's kind of what I feel like I did on the last part of the year, and I feel like I'm doing right now.

So hopefully we can continue that, and my goal this year is just to really play consistent, just the whole year. I know that I'm not going to play great every year, it's really, really hard, but just play consistent, which is the main goal. I wasn't able to do it last year, so that's kind of what my teachers and I have been really, really working on.

Q. I was just curious what you thought since you've won, there's been a lot of things happening with golf in South America, from obviously the Olympics are going to be there in 2016, a lot of the TOUR stuff making inroads there in various countries. It all happened pretty fast. What are your thoughts on that??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: Well, it's definitely great for the area. Just to see golf grow as much as it has in the past year or two I would say; with so many great Latin players, like Angel Cabrera, Camilo or some of the other players, I mean, that really gave a huge boost in the area. Because, I mean, I feel that there are so many great players that need just a little bit of opportunity, and I think this is a great opportunity that we are getting right now just to get a lot more players just to be here on the PGA TOUR or the Nationwide Tour, playing on some of the different tours.

That's huge, and you can see the area is really growing in golf, building golf courses everywhere, people talking about golf, knowing about golf and hopefully Venezuela can really follow that and continue that trend.

Q. Did you watch any of The Presidents Cup??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: I did. I did. As an international player, it was a little disappointing. We lost again, but it's just one of those things that just makes me gives me more hunger, hopefully get on that Presidents Cup and turn things around and we can get in the winning circle.

It's just one of those things that I feel like it's just an equal competition, and you know, we have just got to get over that hump and hopefully the next Presidents Cup, get that trophy.

Q. Is that one of your goals??

JHONATTAN VEGAS: It is one of my goals. It's a fun competition, so just to be part of that, it means that you've done something good in two years. That's definitely one of my goals, and especially after hanging out with Norman and talking to some of the other guys, it's a fun event, and it would be fun just to be part of a winning team.

JOHN BUSH: Jhonattan, we appreciate your time. Play well this week.