BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela, who is quickly demonstrating his promise as a professional, provided further evidence Dec. 12 with a runaway victory at the 105th Visa Open Argentina presented by Bridgestone.
The triumph couldn’t have come at a better time as it serves as a final confidence booster for Vegas, who embarks on his rookie season on the U.S. PGA Tour in four weeks.
Thunderstorms led to long delays Friday and Saturday, but nothing hindered Vegas. He took the lead for good in the second round, and capped the tournament with a 71 for a 10-under 270 total. His nearest rival, Argentina’s Andrés Romero, finished six strokes back.
On the final day at the Jockey Club Argentino, strong winds kept challengers at bay. Vegas carded three birdies and four bogeys on the par-70 layout, and that was sufficient to sustain his sizable lead.
“I think it was a good week for me, I was very consistent,” said the long-hitting Venezuelan, winner of the Nationwide Tour’s Wichita Open last August.
A University of Texas graduate and two seasons into his career as a professional player, Vegas pledged to defend his title next year even though he’ll be moving on to the potential riches of the PGA Tour.
“I had never seen this many fans in a tournament in South America. . . and to make it even better the great Roberto De Vicenzo presented me the trophy,” said Vegas, who collected a US $16,500 check for winning the TLA’s season finale.
U.S. veteran Scott Dunlap, 67, finished in a tie for third, eight strokes off the pace, along with Argentina’s young duo of Rafael Echenique (68) and Alan Wagner (70). Another stroke further back, Ángel Cabrera (70), Miguel Carballo (66) and rookie Tomás Cocha (69) all tied for sixth.
The event was co-sanctioned by the TLA and the local TPG Tour. Argentina’s Julián Etulain didn’t compete in the tournament, but nevertheless secured the 2010 TLA Order of Merit with US $56,593 dollars in earnings. The 21-year-old’s TLA season was highlighted by two victories – the Colombia Open and the Hacienda Chicureo Open. He also lost a playoff at the Televisa TLA Players Championship and collected a total of five top-10 finishes in 10 starts.
TLA contributed to this report.