Vegas eager to hit PGA Tour jackpot again

Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:02pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LA QUINTA, California (Reuters) - Returning to the California desert for this week's Humana Challenge is the perfect place for Jhonattan Vegas to be as he strives to add a second PGA Tour victory to his already impressive career resume.

Two years ago, the Venezuelan claimed his first title on the U.S. circuit in only his fifth start, recovering from a faltering finish to beat Americans Bill Haas and Gary Woodland in a nerve-jangling playoff at this pro-am celebrity event.

Lingering tendonitis in his shoulder hampered his 2012 PGA Tour campaign, making Vegas even more eager over the coming months to replicate at the very least the success he enjoyed in his rookie season.

"Being here gives me a lot of confidence to just keep on going and keep looking for that second tour victory," Vegas told Reuters on Saturday as he reflected on the memories of his 2011 Bob Hope Classic triumph.

"It keeps reminding me that I won here on the PGA Tour and that I can do it again. That's kind of what this place does to me so I've just got to keep reminding myself of that."

The happy-go-lucky Vegas, who learned golf playing with a broomstick and a rock in his native Venezuela, ended his spectacular 2011 campaign with three top-10 finishes in 25 starts but failed to match that consistency last season.

"Last year wasn't a good year for me," said the 28-year-old from Maturin. "Physically I wasn't 100 percent the whole year and because of that, I wasn't really playing the best I could.

"I had a little shoulder tendonitis that kept popping up and kept hurting on the swing. It wasn't a good deal but I have passed that and now I can focus on golf."   Continued...

Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela tees off on the 10th hole during the second round of the AT&T National golf tournament in Bethesda, Maryland June 29, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed