Ve­gas wins sec­ond straight Cana­dian Open ti­tle

Penticton Herald - - SPORTS -

OAKVILLE, Ont. — This year there were no video calls to be made when Jhonat­tan Ve­gas won the RBC Cana­dian Open. He’d brought his wife and daugh­ter with him so they could see him win the PGA Tour event — again — in per­son.

Ve­gas made birdie on the 524-yard par-5 No. 18 to win a play­off with Charley Hoff­man on Sun­day and cap­ture back-to-back Cana­dian Opens. As soon as he’d shook hands with Hoff­man, hugged his caddy and waved to the crowd, Ve­gas bee­lined for his wife Hilde­gard and hugged and kissed her be­tween the bunkers that sit be­hind the green.

“It’s hard to put it in words,” said Ve­gas. “But it’s just re­ally fun, watch­ing them re­ally en­joy it in per­son and see­ing how ner­vous they are when I’m on the course play­ing. Ev­ery time you get a chance to share th­ese mo­ments with your fam­ily, it’s just re­ally im­por­tant.”

Ve­gas was in Canada alone when he won last year — even his caddy couldn’t make it be­cause of visa is­sues — so he spent his en­tire news con­fer­ence on his phone FaceTim­ing his fam­ily.

The Venezue­lan shot a 7-un­der 65 in the fourth round to fin­ish the tour­na­ment at 21 un­der. Hoff­man, who en­tered Sun­day atop the leader­board with a one-stroke lead, had a 68 to force the play­off.

Ve­gas could have sealed his win in reg­u­la­tion and pre­vent a play­off at Glen Abbey Golf Club, but came up four inches short on his birdie putt. That opened the door for Hoff­man, who was in the day’s fi­nal group, three pair­ings back.

While he waited for Hoff­man to make his way through Nos. 17 and 18, Ve­gas re­treated to the club­house to watch on TV with a PGA Tour of­fi­cial. It was the same po­si­tion he was in last year watch­ing the fi­nal pair­ings com­plete their rounds.

“I had to sit down pretty much in the same chair, same TV and just wait to see what was go­ing to hap­pen,” said Ve­gas. “I was feel­ing a lit­tle bit an­gry with my­self that I didn’t birdie 18 in reg­u­la­tion, be­cause I knew that would have given me a bet­ter chance to win.”

Both play­ers put their drives into bunkers on the play­off hole. Hoff­man landed to the left of the fair­way and Ve­gas went to the right, into a sand­trap nick­named “Tiger’s Bunker” af­ter Tiger Woods put the ball in it dur­ing the fi­nal round of his Cana­dian Open cham­pi­onship in 2000.

“Just hit re­ally prob­a­bly the worst drive of the week for me down there and Jhonny caught a break by hav­ing a shot at the green,” said Hoff­man. “Hats off to him the way he played. I played great. Just didn’t get the putts to the hole, which is prob­a­bly go­ing to be what I lose a lit­tle sleep over.”

Jim Furyk was the last golfer to win back-to-back Cana­dian Opens. He did it at Hamil­ton Golf and Coun­try Club in 2006 and then at An­gus Glen Golf Club in Markham, Ont., in 2007.

Macken­zie Hughes (68) of Dun­das, Ont., was the low Cana­dian at 10 un­der and in a tie for 32nd. Graham DeLaet of Wey­burn, Sask., fired a 71 to fin­ish 8 un­der.

NATHAN DENETTE/The Can­dian Press

An RCMP of­fi­cer places his hat on Cana­dian Open cham­pion Jhonat­tan Ve­gas of Venezuela dur­ing the 2017 Cana­dian Open at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ont., on Sun­day.

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