Jhonattan Vegas made a 13-foot par putt on the second playoff hole to win the Bob Hope Classic in La Quinta, Calif., yesterday, holding off Gary Woodland for his first PGA Tour victory.
The first Venezuelan to win a PGA event, the rookie won in just his fifth tour start despite hitting his tee shot in the water on the 92d hole of the five-day tournament. Vegas capitalized when Woodland made two poor chip shots, pumping his fist in celebration after his putt fell.
“It’s something you dream about, but you have to make it happen,’’ Vegas said.
Vegas’s victory should give a boost to his desire to revive the sport in his native country, where it’s largely unpopular and criticized by President Hugo Chavez.
Chavez has said he sees golf as a pastime of the rich, and the government has closed six courses in the past seven years. Vegas expressed a desire to speak with Chavez, hoping to change the president’s mind about the sport that prompted him to move to Houston at 17. Vegas eventually attended the University of Texas and played the Nationwide Tour before graduating last fall.
Vegas and Woodland eliminated defending champion Bill Haas with birdies on the first playoff hole after all three finished the final round at 27-under-par 333.
Playing one group apart, Haas and Vegas both missed short putts on the final regulation hole. A few minutes after Haas botched a 6-footer for birdie, Vegas couldn’t connect from 9 feet, making his only bogey of the day.
Vegas and Woodland closed with 3-under 69s and Haas shot a 66.
Ryan Palmer (64) was fourth at 26-under. Keegan Bradley of Hopkinton shot 70 and tied for seventh, earning $150,625 in just his second start on the PGA Tour.
Champions — John Cook birdied five straight holes on the back nine to win the season-opening
Cook had eight birdies in his bogey-free round for a 22-under 194 total and his second straight victory. He finished last season with a successful title defense in the
After two birdies on the front side, Cook scorched the back nine, dropping putt after putt. He birdied six holes during a seven-hole stretch to take home $305,000 from his sixth win on the 50-and-over circuit.
Lehman also closed with a 64. Defending champion Tom Watson shot a 68 to finish third at 19 under.
European — Martin Kaymer overtook Tiger Woods for the No. 2 ranking in the world, winning the Abu Dhabi Championship in the United Arab Emirates by eight shots after shooting a 6-under 66.
Kaymer held a five-shot lead going into the final round and had no problem securing his third win in four years in Abu Dhabi. Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland finished second after a 69, while Retief Goosen (64) and Graeme McDowell (67) were another two shots back in third.
It was Kaymer’s 100th start on the European Tour, and the ninth win of his career.
“It’s quite nice to overtake somebody who is probably the best player in the world, perhaps the best player that ever lived,’’ Kaymer said.
“To be in front of him for a little bit — we’ll see how long it takes him to overtake me again — but you know, it makes me very proud to be better in the world rankings than the best player in the world.’’