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The Takeaway

Vegas claims second TOUR title

by Mo Yoshimoto
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

107th RBC Canadian Open:

 

 

Jhonattan Vegas styled an 8-under-par 31-33=64 in the final round of the RBC Canadian Open to post the clubhouse mark on 12-under 276, and then waited to see if anyone in the final EIGHT groups could match, including FedExCup leader Dustin Johnson and overnight front-runner Brandt Snedeker, but none did, eventually claiming the crown by one stroke over three players.

 

The 31-year-old, playing this season on Past Champion status, erased a five-shot deficit in the finale, climbing 14 places to claim his second TOUR title in his 128th career start. His maiden victory, the 90-hole 2011 Bob Hope Classic (now CareerBuilder), came in a playoff in his second career start during his rookie season.

 

Last week, the Venezuelan led/co-led after each of the first three rounds at the Barbasol, but after an opening 65 and a career-low, course- and tournament-record 11-under 60, he played the weekend in 2-over 72-72, tying a season-best T4.

 

Vegas' six-stroke lead at the midpoint in Opelika, Alabama, was the largest on TOUR this season and he still led by three following a 1-over 72 in the two-day third round that ended on Sunday morning.

 

Important to note however, while finishing on a disappointing note and three shots out a two-man playoff, his top-10 finish got him an exemption into this week.

 

The Houston resident began the final frame in a six-way T15 on 4-under, five back. He outpaced a 3-putt bogey at the eighth with NINE birdies, including five straight on Nos. 2-6 and three straight to end his round.

 

Not including Henrik Stenson (The Open), Vegas is the third straight winner in as many weeks to claim victory on limited status, joining Aussies Greg Chalmers at the Barracuda (on conditional status) and Aaron Baddeley at the Barbasol (Past Champion status).

 

Like Baddeley, he returned to the winner’s circle for the first time since 2011. Vegas won the 2011 CareerBuilder from the 54-hole perch, so this would be his first in come-from-behind fashion, obviously!

 

This was the 28th playing of the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario. The 7,253-yard, par-72 layout (35-37) played over-par in the first two rounds and under-par on the weekend. The cumulative scoring average was 72.535. Making his fourth appearance, Vegas posted rounds of 73-69-70-64 for a 12.670 in SG: Total. His previous best was T28 on debut in 2012 (Hamilton G&CC).

 

With the win, the soon-to-be Olympian earns a two-year exemption on TOUR and invites to the 2017 Hyundai TOC and the 2017 Masters. He also snared the final spot into this coming week’s PGA Championship.

 

Vegas deposits 500 FedExCup (FEC) points, vaulting from 77th in the FEC standings to 24th, and jumps from 203rd in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) to 86th. His career high in OWGR is 69th after his maiden title in 2011.

 

The win comes in his 22nd start of the season and is fifth top 10, FOUR of which double as top 5s.

 

 

Winner’s Weekly Stats (ranking of 80 players):

 

Birdies: 23 (T1)

Bogeys: 11 (T33)

 

Par-3 Scoring: 2.94 (T8)

Par-4 Scoring: 3.93 (7th)

Par-5 Scoring: 4.50 (T32)

 

Driving Distance: 323.5 yards (11th)

Driving Accuracy: 25/56 (T55) at 44.64 percent

Greens in Regulation: 50/72 (T3) at 69.44 percent

Proximity to Hole: 37’2” (51st)

Putts per GIR: 1.780 (T57)

Total Putts: 116 (T65); by round: 33-26-29-28

Scrambling: 15/22 (16th) at 68.18 percent

 

SG: Off-the-Tee: 3.717 (9th)

SG: Approach-to-the-Green: 4.279 (13th)

SG: Around-the-Green: 2.961 (21st)

SG: Tee-to-Green: 10.958 (2nd)

SG: Putting: 1.713 (29th)

 

 

Golf Channel Perfect Picks ($2,038,122):

 

Group 1: Dustin Johnson (T2): $440,533

Group 2: Jimmy Walker; Chris Kirk (T14): $95,056

Group 3: Jhonattan Vegas (Won): $1,062,000

Group 4: Jon Rahm (T2): $440,533

 

 

Draw:

 

In total, 80 players (78 pros, 2 amateurs) from a field of 152 pros and four amateurs made the cut on 2-over 146 with 43 (of 77) EARLY/late advancing (one WD), versus 37 (of 76) LATE/early (two WDs).

 

Of the five top-finishers in Golf Channel, three emerged from LATE/early, but the champion was EARLY/late:

 

Jhonattan Vegas (Won): EARLY/late

Jon Rahm (T2): LATE/early

Dustin Johnson (T2): LATE/early

Jimmy Walker (T14): EARLY/late

Chris Kirk (T14): LATE/early

 

 

Yahoo! Low Rounds:

 

R1: Dustin Johnson; Luke List (66)

R2: Chad Campbell; Kevin Kisner (67)

R3: Steve Wheatcroft (64)

R4: George Coetzee; Brian Harman; Geoff Ogilvy (63)

 

 

Bogey-free Rounds:

 

R1: Luke List (66); Sung Kang (70)  

R2: NONE

R3: Derek Fathauer (65); Si Woo Kim (67); Bud Cauley (70)

R4: Cameron Percy (67); Jason Day (67); Jon Rahm (67); Spencer Levin (68); Matt Kuchar (69)

 

 

What We Learned:

 

The pre-tourney odds-favorites have won just TWICE this season thru 38 events and Jordan Spieth has both of them, winning the DEAN & DELUCA and the Hyundai TOC.

 

For a second consecutive week (inclusive of the 145th Open Championship), World No. 1 Jason Day and World No. 2 Dustin Johnson were the pre-tourney co-faves, this time at a lofty 5/1.

 

Jason Day: The defending champion finished off his fourth appearance with a bogey-free 5-under-par 33-34=67 and a four-day tally of 7-under 281, up 14 places to T14, five back of Vegas.

 

He opened the week in 69-76 to sit T47 at the midpoint on 1-over, one inside the cut line, but rebounded to tour the weekend in 69-67, playing his final 24 holes bogey-free and gaining eight shots to par.

 

For the week, the Aussie totaled two eagles and 14 birdies against 11 bogeys. He was T38 in GIR at 59.72 percent (43/72) and 79th (of 80) in driving accuracy at 30.36 percent (17/56).

 

With golf returning to the Olympics – and the related shuffling of the tournament scheduling – the PGA Championship slots right behind the Canadian Open this season, so the 28-year-old will be defending in back-to-back weeks.

 

Dustin Johnson: The FEC leader rallied for a 3-under-par 35-34=69 in the final round to conclude his fourth appearance in a three-way T2 on 11-under 277 (66-71-71-69), one swing back of champion Vegas. He didn’t play last year’s edition at Glen Abbey, but did compete the time prior in 2013, finishing T2 as well. Overall, it’s his eighth runner-up in 196 career starts.

 

The 32-year-old was chasing his third win of the season and third in his last four starts, but settles for his sixth straight top 10. He increased his TOUR lead in top 10s this season with 12 in 17 starts and has 10 top 5s, including FIVE in his last SIX events.

 

DJ began the finale one back in a two-way T2 after co-leading thru 18 and 36 holes, respectively. Playing out of the penultimate twosome, he was even-par thru 15 holes, exchanging two birdies with two bogeys, before eagle at the par-5 16th from 12'11" and an up-and-down birdie at the par-5 18th.

 

Johnson's only par breakers in R4 came on the four par 5s. Over his final 36 holes, he had eight par breakers, SEVEN of which were on par 5s. Johnson was No. 1 for the week in SG: Off-the-Tee (6.996), but 52nd (of 80) in SG: Approach-to-the-Green (-0.079), including a -2.996 in R4. He was also first in par-5 scoring with a gaudy 4.13 average and first in driving distance (334.9).

 

 

There were 28 first-timers at Glen Abbey GC in a field of 152 pros and four amateurs and 13 (of 17) TOUR rookies.

 

Jon Rahm: The 21-year-old was the top debutant following a final-round bogey-free 5-under-par 32-35=67, up four spots into a three-way T2 on 11-under 277 (67-71-72-67).

 

Playing on a sponsor invite and making his sixth start of the season and fourth as a pro, he had an eagle chance on the 72nd hole (par-5 18th) from 10'4" to tie Vegas' at-the-time clubhouse mark, but settled for a two-putt birdie.

 

The former ASU standout’s T2 is a career best, eclipsing T3 in his pro debut at the QL National. For the week, he totaled two eagles and 18 birdies, outpacing eight bogeys and two doubles and was No. 1 in proximity at 30’1”. Rahm climbs 136 spots to No. 142 in OWGR and ranks fourth this season in non-member FEC points (382) behind Byeong-Hun An, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Lee Westwood. Among members, his 382 total would tie him for 129th, so he has a little work left to earn his 2016-17 TOUR card.

 

That said, Rahm did surpass the golfer who finished No. 150 in FEC points last season (361/Cameron Percy), becoming eligible for Special Temporary Membership and can accept unlimited sponsor exemptions for the remainder of the 2015-16 season.

 

Rhein Gibson: Playing on a sponsor exemption, the 30-year-old Aussie, he of albatross fame at the 72nd hole three weeks ago at the Barracuda, took top honors of the TOUR rookies with T32 on 4-under 284 (72-72-70-70).

His season best (and lone top 25) in 18 starts is a T25 at the aforementioned Barracuda, but this is the Oklahoma resident’s second-best finish. He gained 12 spots to 196th in the FEC standings.

 

 

Surprises:

 

Martin Laird: The 33-year-old fashioned a 5-under-par 32-35=67 in the final round to reach 11-under 277 (73-69-68-67), up four places into a three-way T2, one adrift.

 

The Scottsdale, Arizona, resident arrived this week at No. 126 in the FEC standings with just two top 10s in 19 events and only five events remaining until the start of the Playoffs. He was making his fifth RBC appearance with a previous best of T16 in 2009, also at Glen Abbey.

 

The Scot, chasing his fourth TOUR title, first since the 2013 Valero Texas Open, departs with a season best, previously T7 at the opposite-field Barracuda, and his sixth career runner-up in his 210th career event.

 

Laird leaps 47 spots to 79th in FEC points and this is his best finish on TOUR since his win at the VTO over 39 months ago. He was No. 1 for the week in GIR at 79.17 percent (57/72).

 

Jared du Toit: The sponsor invite and top-ranked Canadian amateur pieced together a 1-under-par 36-35=71 in the final round to settle into a four-way T9 on 9-under 279 (67-71-70-71), three strokes back.

 

With the weight of a nation on his shoulders and making his PGA TOUR debut, the 21-year-old valiantly outpaced three bogeys with four birdies in the finale. Playing out of the final twosome with 2013 champ and overnight leader Snedeker, he began the day in a two-way T2, one adrift.

 

The soon-to-be senior at Arizona State understandably was in the negative column in all strokes gained categories in R4 with the exception of 0.597 in SG: Putting, finishing 2nd in the latter with a cumulative 8.808. (Kevin Kisner was No. 1 in SGP at 10.160).

 

For the week, he totaled two eagles and 18 birdies, overshadowing eight bogeys, one double and one triple. du Toit's 71 matched Snedeker's 71 out of the final game of the day so he certainly held his own under enormous pressure. The next-best Canuck on the leaderboard was Adam Hadwin who finished T49 on 1-under 287 (72-70-74-71). Snedeker finished T5 on 10-under 278 (68-73-66-71) and his record when the 54-hole leader/co-leader drops to 3-8; 0-2 this season as he co-led the Sony Open but eventually lost in a playoff.

 

Steve Wheatcroft: The 38-year-old stalled out to a 3-under-par 32-37=69 in the final round for a four-day total of 10-under 278 (68-77-64-69), down one spot into a four-way T5, two back.

 

The Pennsylvania native was chasing his maiden TOUR title in his 130th career start, beginning the finale on 7-under (T4), two off the pace.

 

Playing out of the penultimate twosome with FEC leader Johnson, he briefly took the lead on 10-under total after his third birdie of the round on the par-4 eighth. After birdies at Nos. 13 and 15 (from 23'5"), the Jacksonville, Florida, resident co-led on 12-under with Vegas, who was in the clubhouse.

 

He failed to birdie the par-5 16th, couldn't convert a sand save at the 17th, and then skulled his third from a greenside bunker at the par-5 18th over the green and into the water, eventually squaring 6 and a bogey-bogey finish.

 

This was Wheatcroft's fifth RBC appearance with a previous best of T13 in 2010 (St. George's G&CC), and just his second top 10 of the season in 23 events, matching a T5 at the Barracuda two starts ago.

 

The Indiana University alum was No. 1 for the week in eagles (3) and driving accuracy 67.86 percent (38/56). He bumps 19 places in the FEC standings to 134th.

 

 

Up Next:

 

The TOUR heads to Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey, for the 98th PGA Championship, the season’s final major. World No. 1 Day is the defending champion, winning his first major championship by three over Spieth on 20-under 268 at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

 

Stay tuned to this space for all the latest player news and opinions as the TOUR readies for its 39th tournament of the season. Inclusive of this week, there are just FOUR events remaining before the start of the FEC Playoffs.