A Vegas family affair at the U.S. Amateur
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BROOKLINE, Mass. – It’s a family affair this week at the U.S. Amateur for the Vegas family. Recent Texas graduate Julio Vegas is playing in his last amateur event before he turns professional in the fall, and PGA Tour professional Jhonattan is looping for his younger brother. Parents Carlos and Maritza are in town for the occasion, too.
“It feels great,” Julio said. “It doesn’t happen that often, but it feels great to have them here and to watch me.”
It all didn’t go according to plan Monday as Julio shot a 10-over 80 in the first round of stroke play at Charles River Country Club.
That didn’t matter. For both brothers, it was just about being with each other.
“It was awesome, to be honest,” Jhonattan said. “It’s been a while since I’ve been on the other side of the bag.”
The brothers had talked about doing this for a long time. With Jhonattan being sidelined with a shoulder injury and Julio making one last amateur start, the timing was perfect.
The duo made a plan heading into the day to keep the ball in the fairway and hit a bunch of greens. Unfortunately, the course ate up Julio and the other 155 competitors at Charles River, where the scoring average was 73.94.
“All I can do is be supportive and be the best help I could,” Jhonattan said. “. . . As a caddie or a golfer, I just have to try and support him and be the best caddie I can.”
On the course, Jhonattan performed like any other caddie. He read putts, tossed some grass to check the wind direction and even dropped a head cover at one point.
“We enjoyed it,” Jhonattan said. “I mean, I enjoyed being on his side and it was fun.”
Jhonattan gave Julio guidance on a shot on the par-5 15th. His ball landed in the high rough just beyond the fairway on a sidehill, downhill lie.
“I mean, he was trying to tell me to make sure to go through, hit a punch shot, make sure I hit it really solid,” Julio said. “And I hit it really well, and he helped me a lot.”
This is only the second time Jhonattan has caddied for Julio, who has in turn looped for his older brother when he was an amateur. In 2007, Julio caddied for Jhonattan when the elder Vegas made a run into the U.S. Amateur semifinals at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.
“And I really saw this as a great opportunity for me to kind of pay him back,” Jhonattan said.
That’s why this is an extra-special circumstance.
Tuesday, it will be back to business as usual. The two intend to talk Monday night about a game plan for the ever-challenging course at The Country Club, which averaged 6.5 strokes over par in the first round.
“I need to go low,” Julio said simply.
Regardless of whether Julio makes the cut for match play, the memory of having his brother on the bag will last a lifetime.