2011 PGA TOUR Week 3: Rookie Jhonattan Vegas Wins the Bob Hope Classic

If you haven’t noticed it is a new era in golf. The Tiger Woods era ended in 2010.

2011 PGA TOUR Week Rookie Jhonattan Vegas Wins the 2011 Bob Hope Classic!   Photo Credit: Golf Monthly

2011 PGA TOUR Week Rookie Jhonattan Vegas Wins the 2011 Bob Hope Classic! Photo Credit: Golf Monthly

Whether or not there is a Tiger Woods Reprise in 2011 is yet to be determined.

One thing is for certain: 2010 signaled that golf is truly a world game.

Four major champions, four different countries—America’s Phil Mickelson in the Masters, Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen in the Open at St. Andrews and Germany’s Martin Kaymer at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

The younger and better generation came into stride in 2010 led by double winners Dustin Johnson (AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and BMW Championship) and Bill Haas (Bob Hope Classic and Viking Classic).

Jason Day won the 2010 Byron Nelson at age 22.

In 2010, Derek Lamely (Puerto Rico Open) and Rory McIlroy (Quail Hollow Championship) won on the PGA TOUR in their rookie seasons.

Lamely won in his 12th and McIlroy in his 18th PGA TOUR start.

More of the same in 2011?

You can bet on that, Vegas- style!

Rookie Jhonattan Vegas won the 2011 Bob Hope Classic in only his fifth PGA TOUR start.

Vegas is the first PGA TOUR member from Venezuela and the first rookie to win in the 52 year history of the Bob Hope Classic.

Now joining Arnold Palmer (1960) and Charley Hoffman (2007) in the record books, Vegas won the Bob Hope Classic in his first start.

Vegas three-putted and bogeyed the 18th to fall into a tie with Bill Haas who finished two groups earlier and playing partner Gary Woodland who birdied the 90th and final hole of regulation.

Defending champion Haas was defeated in the first playoff hole as he failed to birdie the par five 18th.

Vegas then birdied the 18th to knock out the other young wonder who was playing in only his 28th PGA TOUR event and who notched his first career Top-10 finish.

While Vegas won in Palm Springs, on the other side of the world in another desert in Abu Dhabi, all four 2010 Major champions, including American Phil Mickelson making his 2011 debut, competed with World No.1 Lee Westwood on the European Tour.

PGA Champion Martin Kaymer ran away from a strong field and won by eight strokes to become the World No. 2 golfer at age 26.

The Bob Hope Classic, a five-round desert gem of celebrity, amateur and professional competition began on Wednesday with 30 celebrities, 384 amateurs and 128 PGA TOUR players on four desert golf courses.

With perfect weather—mostly sunny, temperatures in the high 70s and light winds, it was another shootout in the desert.

Derek Lamely, who is given little recognition as the “other” (than Rory McIlroy) rookie to win on the PGA TOUR last year, strung together five birdies, an eagle and then another birdie while shooting a leading nine-under par 63 on the Palmer Private Course at PGA West in Round 1.

Lamely may be flying under the radar but his game is not lame at all.

His seven-under birdie-eagle streak is the best on TOUR since Brandt Snedeker recorded an eight-under on the North Course at Torrey Pines at the 2007 Buick Invitational.

Golf Channel’s Michael “the Weather Man” Breed analyzed celebrity and professional golf swings with a giant green screen behind him.

Jhonattan Vegas, 2010 Nationwide Tour graduate (No. 7 with one win) first came to the top of a PGA TOUR leader board at the end of Thursday’s Round 2 along with Boo Weekly at 13-under par.

Lamely’s second round included a quintuple-bogey nine on his second hole. He recovered with four birdies on the back nine and managed a one-over 73. After a 72 on Friday his weekend 64-67 performance would finish T13, six strokes out of the three-way playoff.

Vegas continued to play well and Woodland joined him at the top of the leader board after Friday’s Round 3 as the Champions Tour got underway in 2011 in Hawaii at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship.

Come Sunday, John Cook would win the season-opener to go along with his victory at last season’s closer at Harding Park.

Vegas and Woodland would increase their one stroke co-lead over Greg Chalmers to two strokes over Martin Laird by the end of Saturday’s fourth round with Haas three strokes back.

In Sunday’s fifth and final trek around the Palmer Private Course, Vegas and Woodland would shoot 69 to be joined in the playoff by Haas’ 66.

With this victory, look for Vegas in the field at the Masters, PLAYERS, and PGA Championship.

Who will win at Augusta National, or at the Atlanta Athletic Club in the U.S. Open, or at England’s Royal St. George’s in the British Open, or at Congressional CC in our nation’s capital in the PGA Championship?

Perhaps it will be a rookie, a different international player or a 35-year old now World No. 3 rejuvenated star.

Look for the Tiger Woods Reprise of 2011 to start this week at Torrey Pines in the Famers Insurance Open.


Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer covering all four major American golf tours- the PGA TOUR, Champions, Nationwide and LPGA Tours.