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Published on Sunday, July 30, 2017

Vegas defends Canadian Open title with win

Can he repeat next year for a record three times?

Vegas defends Canadian Open title with win
Vegas defends Canadian Open title
RBC Canadian Open winner Jhonattan Vegas tries on the stetson of RCMP Const. Terry Russel, after being presented with the championship trophy for a second year in a row. Vegas edged Charlie Hoffman in a playoff after shooting a 7-under 65 Sunday. — Graham Paine — Oakville Beaver
By Herb Garbutt, Oakville Beaver

The RBC Canadian Open has the same winner, but the course that serves as its semi-permanent home has a new champion.

After another brilliant Sunday, Jhonattan Vegas edged Charley Hoffman in a playoff to defend his Canadian Open title and become the first player to win back-to-back since Jim Furyk in 2006 and 2007. It was the third PGA Tour victory for Vegas and his second in Oakville.

“You know what, I’m going to be one of the biggest voices to keep this course open, especially if I keep winning here” the 32-year-old said with a wide smile. “I’ll definitely make a statement on trying to keep Glen Abbey going.”

Vegas’ 7-under 65 on Sunday got him into a playoff with Hoffman, the third-round leader. He birdied the first playoff hole while Hoffman just missed holing out from the bunker behind the 18th green.

In the playoff, both players hit their drives in the playoff into fairway bunkers. Hoffman laid up while Vegas hit an 8-iron that just clipped the face of the bunker but still landed on the green before settling into the rough pin high.

“I knew I had to stay aggressive and I’m always better when I’m aggressive,” Vegas said. “I knew I could pull that shot out and I never let doubt cross my mind.”

From the edge of the green, he chipped to within a few inches, leaving himself a tap-in birdie. That left Hoffman with no option but to make his shot from the bunker and he rolled it an inch wide of the hole.

Vegas had been struggling, missing five straight cuts and seven of eight before coming to Canada. But as he began discussing the course with his caddie, who missed last year’s tournament, it brought back good memories.

“When we came in here this week, I started reliving all the shots I hit last year – I hit it here, I hit it there, I hit a great iron and made birdie here – a lot of those good thoughts start creeping into your head again and you start seeing good shots again and a lot of positives start happening.”

The positives started early with a birdie on No. 2, followed by three straight on No. 5, 6 and 7. He capped the front with a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 9 to earn a share of the lead.

His only stumble came on the par-3 15th when he missed the green and made his only bogey of the day. But it was a par on the final hole that he was lamenting afterward.

“I was a little angry at myself that I didn’t birdie 18 in regulation,” said Vegas, who bombed his drive 388 yards to the front of the pond. “That would have given me a better chance to win.”

Instead, he could only watch as Hoffman’s potential winning eagle putt from 24 feet just rolled by the edge of the cup.

“I gave it chance,” said Hoffman, who narrowly missed a 15-footer for eagle on 16 and an 11-footer for birdie on 17. “I just didn’t close on those opportunities I had on the back nine.”

This year was quite a different experience for Vegas, who earned his first PGA victory by winning a three-man playoff in 2011. Last year, he was a relative unknown who came from well back in the final round, finishing an hour before the final group walked up 18.

This year he started the final round three shots off the lead, and as a fan favourite.

“Canada loves you Vegas,” someone yelled as he walked up to the 13th green. Minutes later, he drained a birdie putt to go to 21-under for the tournament.

That put him up one shot up on Ian Poulter, who made a Sunday charge with the day’s best round, a 64, to finish third.

“The whole week, everybody was like ‘You’re going to repeat.’ ‘You’re going to win again for us,’” Vegas said. “It really set me up to play some good golf.”

No doubt the crowds will be behind the Venezuelan next year as Glen Abbey will host the tournament again in 2018. That will give Vegas will have the opportunity to become the first player to win three straight Canadian Opens.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

Categories: News

Tags: Oakville Town Council , Glen Abbey Golf Course , Canadian Open

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