LA QUINTA, Calif. – Your co-leaders at the Bob Hope Classic are two big, athletic youngsters with raw talent and an incredible ability to crush a golf ball. Jhonattan Vegas and Gary Woodland won’t play together Saturday, but here’s a tale of the tape for what could be a good, old-fashioned slugfest in the final group Sunday.
One of Vegas’ instructors, Kevin Kirk, estimates he’s seen Vegas play 100 rounds.
“Twenty-five or 30 of those rounds, I’ve seen him hit a ball more than 400 yards,” Kirk said, adding that the first time Kirk saw Vegas play, he reached a 540-yard par 5 with a driver and a 9-iron.
Kirk remembers a time his students were hitting balls with a Trackman launch monitor. Kirk asked the students to make a normal swing, then swing as hard as possible.
“All the other kids could move the club 2-3 mph faster,” Kirk said. “He moved it 10-15 mph. That’s God-given.”
Vegas’ stock swing is around 125 mph. He was clocked at the ’07 U.S. Amateur, where he advanced to the semifinals, at 138.
Woodland played a year of college basketball at Division II Washburn. One of his highlights was a game against Kansas in famed Allen Fieldhouse. Woodland’s team lost by 30 points. The blowout helped steer him toward golf.
“I realized there’s not many 6-foot white guys in the NBA,” Woodland said. “We were No. 2 in Division II, they were No. 1 in Division I. And after that game, I had a blast, and it was time for me to start realizing what I was going to do after school.
“I made the decision to transfer (to Kansas) and start working at this full-time.”
• • •
Vegas: 230 pounds
Woodland: 200 pounds
Vegas: Maturin, Venezuela
Woodland: Topeka, Kansas
DRIVING DISTANCE (this week)
Vegas: 311.4 (4)
Woodland: 315.1 (3)
Average PGA Tour player: 283.2
DRIVING DISTANCE (2010 Nationwide Tour)
Vegas: 312.9 yards (3)
Woodland: 315.1 (2)
Vegas: 313.1 yards (1)
Woodland: 283.0 (29)
Average PGA Tour player: 271.8
Vegas: 125.3 mph (2)
Woodland: 120.2 mph (8)
Average PGA Tour player: 112.2
Vegas: 183.3 mph (3)
Woodland: 175.7 mph (11)
Average PGA Tour player: 165.8 mph