Armchair Golf Pro: Vegas Cashes In At Hope Classic

The Armchair Golf Pro writes about PGA Tour events each week. Like you he is watching from his comfy armchair, enjoying the competition and drama, but also pulling lessons and observations you can use to your advantage on the golf course to help you play better golf.

LA QUINTA, CA - JANUARY 23:  Jhonattan Vegas o...

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Jhonattan Vegas just proved why you never give never up and never give in. And that’s the Armchair Golf Pro’s lesson for the tournament. Play every shot, one at a time, until the ball is in the hole.

Vegas ended the Bob Hope Classic at -27 under in a tie with Gary Woodland and last year’s winner Bill Haas, so they headed off to play the par-5 18th in sudden death. But that’s when things got interesting and the odds got turned completely upside down.

After everybody hit their second shots Hass was short of the green but in the fairway with a challenging but doable pitch. Woodland was behind the green with a ticklish chip in long grass to a downhill pin and not much green to work with. Vegas was off to the right in long grass with no chance for an up-and-down. Or so I thought. If I were placing bets at that moment I would have given the odds to Hass, with a chance Woodland would tie. I was already counting Vegas out.

Instead Hass hit a lack-luster pitch to 20 feet. Then Vegas made a fantastic lob shot and almost holed out. Woodland trickled his chip to 6 feet. Vegas and Woodland made their putts and Haas missed. Suddenly Haas – the guy who looked like he was in the driver’s seat – was out. Then the odds got stranger.

Vegas – a PGA Tour rookie from Venezuela – plays aggressive golf. On the second playoff hole, even with water on the left, Vegas went with driver and .. you guessed it .. lost it in the drink. Advantage Woodland.

Woodland then made a smart strategic decision: he put the wood back in the bag and went with a long iron off the tee, splitting the middle of the fairway. Game over, right?

Not according to Vegas. And this is why you keep playing until every putt is holed out.

Woodland, knowing he only needed to make par to win, made one of those conservative swings that is like the NFL Prevent Defense – the only thing it seems to prevent is a win. His ball sailed into the right bunker.

Vegas, who had to drop next to the hazard, hit his next shot (his third) 10 feet from the cup. Woodland’s bunker shot caught a little too much ball and wound up 30 feet past the pin.

Whoa! What just happened here? Woodland was in the driver’s seat in the middle of the fairway and Vegas was swimming with the fish. All of a sudden Vegas is looking at a 10-footer for par and Woodland is 30 feet for par. How did that happen?

If you watched, you know the outcome. Woodland missed, Vegas made his putt and celebrated the victory. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing some dramatic golf from Vegas in the future, and I am looking forward to it. He seems fearless. One thing I know for sure – he never, ever, gives up. And neither should you.

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