Jhonattan Vegas rallies to win Canadian Open
OAKVILLE, ONTARIO >> Jhonattan Vegas birdied his way off Glen Abbey and waited to see if anyone could catch him. No one could.
Vegas rallied to win the Canadian Open on Sunday for his second PGA Tour title, birdieing the final three holes for an 8-under 64 and one-stroke victory.
The 29-year-old Venezuelan Olympic player began the day five strokes behind leader Brandt Snedeker and four behind U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson and Canadian amateur Jared du Toit. Last week in Alabama in the event opposite the British Open, Vegas shot a course-record 61 in the second round and tied for fourth.
"That's the fortunate breaks that sometimes you need to be a champion on the PGA Tour," Vegas said. "It's a great feeling. I mean, last week, I had a six-shot lead going into the weekend and lost by three. I was five back starting today and won by one. It's a crazy sport. You've just got to keep your head down and play hard."
Vegas had five straight birdies on Nos. 2-6, bogeyed the par-4 eighth and also birdied the par-5 13th.
"Starting the round, I knew that if I could get to 12 under, literally that's the number I had in my mind," Vegas said. "I didn't know that it was going to be enough, obviously, to win by one, but I knew it was going to give me a good chance."
He birdied the par-5 16th, par-4 17th and par-5 18th to post at 12-under 276.
"I think there were a bunch of guys around 11 or 10," Vegas said. "We had, I think, Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker, a bunch of guys, really close. Great players. I knew, if I got lucky, it was going to be a playoff. Super surprised when I saw that nobody got to 12."
Johnson, Jon Rahm and Martin Laird tied for second.
Vegas earned $1,062,000 and a spot in the PGA Championship next week at Baltusrol in New Jersey. He also received a two-year tour exemption and a spot in the Masters next year.
Also the 2011 Bob Hope Classic winner, Vegas did some soul-searching after the loss in Alabama
"I had a long talk with my parents. I had a long talk with my golf teachers about what was missing, what was the missing component of the formula to win," Vegas said. "Obviously, we had a long talk, a lot of things came out. Came this week with a completely different approach about things, and obviously it worked out."
Johnson eagled the 16th and birdied the 18th for a 69.
"It has to do with the putter. I just did not roll it that well," Johnson said. "Honestly, I had a good finish. But other than that, I didn't roll any putts.
"I played really nicely. I feel like I'm hitting the ball really well. I'm really looking forward to going into next week. I think the game is in really good shape. Do a little practice on the putting in the next few days over at Baltusrol. But other than that, I'm really confident in the game right now. I feel like everything is going really well"
Rahm, du Toit's former Arizona State teammate, birdied 16 and 18 in a 67. The Spaniard missed a 10-foot eagle putt on 18.
"He just went straight and didn't break," Rahm said. "It was hard to see it go by the left edge of the hole and not go in, that's for sure. ... Probably, if not the best, one of the best 5-irons I've ever hit, that's for sure. Came off perfect off the clubface."
Rahm tied for third in his pro debut late last month at Congressional.
Laird finished with two pars in a 67.
Snedeker shot a 71 to tie for fifth at 10 under. He birdied the 16th and closed with two pars.
"Very disappointing," said Snedeker, the 2013 winner at Glen Abbey. "Put myself in a position to win a golf tournament and to play the way I did today is disheartening to say the least. To putt the way I did and make decisions the way I did, put the ball in play off the tee like I did today and have every chance to be successful and completely gave it away.
"It's going to be a tough night, very frustrating to say the least. Lots of positives to build on for next week, and hopefully by tomorrow get my mind right and get ready to go for next week."
Du Toit tied for ninth at 9 under after a 71. He birdied 16 and 18.
"Once I got the first hole out of the way, I felt pretty good," du Toit said. "I was just so excited to be out there and in the final group in the atmosphere. I really wasn't thinking too much about my score or anything."
Du Toit, an Arizona State senior from Kimberley, British Columbia, was trying to become the first Canadian winner since Pat Fletcher, born in England, in 1954 at Point Grey in Vancouver, British Columbia. Doug Sanders was the last amateur to win the event in 1956, and Phil Mickelson — then also an Arizona State student — was the last amateur winner on the tour in the 1991 Northern Telecom Open.
Geoff Ogilvy also was 9 under after a 63.
Top-ranked defending champion Jason Day had a 67 to tie for 14th at 7 under.
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