Ve­gas edges Hoff­man to re­tain Cana­dian Open ti­tle

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OAKVILLE, On­tario — Jhonat­tan Ve­gas suc­cess­fully de­fended his RBC Cana­dian Open ti­tle Sun­day at Glen Abbey, beat­ing Charley Hoff­man with a birdie on the first hole of a play­off.

Ve­gas’ ap­proach from the left bunker on the par-5 18th hit the grass just above the sand lip and still had enough power to clear the wa­ter and go through the green.

“When I heard the clip, be­cause ob­vi­ously I didn’t see it, I knew that it was prob­a­bly go­ing to go in the wa­ter, be­cause I didn’t know ex­actly how hard it hit it,” Ve­gas said. “But then when I saw the ball in the air, it was still go­ing re­ally hard and for­ward.”

The 32-year-old Venezue­lan chipped to a foot — af­ter rac­ing a chip past the hole in reg­u­la­tion from the same area en route to a par — and won when Hoff­man’s birdie try from the back bunker slid past the hole.

“It’s been a spe­cial day,” Ve­gas said. “I knew that I had to shoot a good round to­day to have a chance to win again. I just came out with an ag­gres­sive men­tal­ity, just feel­ing re­ally good about my game. When I started mak­ing a few birdies, es­pe­cially the putt for birdie on 7, I started feel­ing the same chills that I felt last year when I won, and I just knew that some­thing good could hap­pen if I kept that go­ing.”

Ve­gas closed with a 7-un­der 65 to match Hoff­man at 21-un­der 267.

Ve­gas is pay­ing close at­ten­tion to the tur­moil in Venezuela, where peo­ple stayed away from the polls in mas­sive num­bers Sun­day in a show of protest against a vote to grant Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro’s rul­ing so­cial­ist party vir­tu­ally un­lim­ited pow­ers.

“It’s been on my mind. It’s al­ways on my mind,” Ve­gas said. “I have fam­ily that live there. It’s my coun­try of birth. I mean, it hurts. Like I said yes­ter­day, it hurts a lot, see­ing the coun­try the way it is; see­ing a gov­ern­ment that treats peo­ple that way when they don’t de­serve it just to re­main in power, and all the suf­fer­ing that even my fam­ily and friends that are hav­ing right now, it’s just not fair.”

Hoff­man, the third-round leader, birdied the 18th for a 68.

“I gave my­self a chance, ex­cept I putted hor­ri­bly to­day and left ev­ery­thing short,” Hoff­man said. “Jhonny played great to­day. All credit to him.”

Hoff­man left a 15-foot ea­gle putt short on the par-5 16th, then had a 10-foot birdie try on the par-4 17th and a 20-footer for ea­gle on 18 go by the left edges.

“It’s al­ways tough af­ter you don’t close the deal af­ter hav­ing the lead,” Hoff­man said. “Seven­teen, I hit a great putt. Ac­tu­ally thought I made it,” Hoff­man said. “That green was a lit­tle burned out. Thought I made that putt on 17. Eight-teen, I hit a good putt. Six­teen, is the one I want back, right in the jaw strip. Didn’t get there.”

Ve­gas has three PGA Tour ti­tles, also win­ning the 2011 Bob Hope Clas­sic. He’s the sixth player to win con­sec­u­tive Cana­dian Opens, fol­low­ing J. Dou­glas Ed­wards (191920), Leo Diegel (1924-25), Sam Snead (1940-41), Jim Fer­rier (195051) and Jim Furyk (2006-07). Ian Poul­ter was a stroke back af­ter a 64, the best round of the day.

“The best thing I did to­day was start hol­ing a few putts,” Poul­ter said. “I played good golf to­day. I gave my­self a lot of chances. I’m go­ing to rue a cou­ple of chances out there on the golf course, 13, 16, where I felt I had op­por­tu­ni­ties to add to my un­der-par tally.”

Gary Wood­land was 19 un­der af­ter a 68. Robert Gar­ri­gus shot a 69 — a day af­ter match­ing the course record with a 62 — to tie for fifth at

18 un­der with Bran­don Hagy (68) and Tony Finau (68).

Top-ranked Dustin John­son (67) and Kevin Chap­pell (71) were 17 un­der.

“The golf game is there,” John­son said. “I’m re­ally hit­ting it well. Feel like I’m driv­ing it bet­ter to­day a lit­tle bit. I hit a lot of re­ally good putts that didn’t go in the hole. I had a lot of looks to­day, and it’s def­i­nitely pos­i­tive.”

Vi­jay Singh, at 54 the old­est player in the field, closed with a 68 to tie for 14th at 15 un­der. He won the 2004 tour­na­ment at Glen Abbey, beat­ing Cana­dian Mike Weir in a play­off.

Matt Kuchar had a 69 to tie for 32nd at 10 un­der. Com­ing off a sec­ond-place fin­ish in the Bri­tish Open, he fought dizzy spells in the first round Thurs­day.

The As­so­ci­ated Press

SUC­CESS­FUL DE­FENSE: Jhonat­tan Ve­gas of Venezuela tips his cap as he fin­ishes his fi­nal round of the 2017 Cana­dian Open at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, On­tario, Sun­day. Ve­gas beat Charley Hoff­man with a birdie on the first hole of the play­off to re­tain the Cana­dian Open ti­tle.

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