Vegas shares surprise lead in California
Jhonattan Vegas, who learned golf with a broomstick and a rock in his native Venezuela, has surged into a tie for the lead in the second round of the Bob Hope Classic at La Quinta, California.
The PGA Tour rookie, making sure he enjoys himself as much as he can in competition, fired a five-under-par 67 on the Nicklaus Private course at PGA West, one of four venues hosting the five-round pro-am celebrity event.
Although he bogeyed his final hole after ending up in a greenside bunker, he ended another sun-splashed day in the California desert level with American Boo Weekley at 13-under 131.
Weekley, who has not won on the PGA Tour since the 2008 Heritage Classic, birdied his last two holes for a 66 on the Nicklaus layout.
Charles Howell III carded a seven-birdie 66 on the Palmer Private course to lie one stroke off the pace with fellow American Chris Couch, who returned a 65 at the SilverRock Resort.
Britain's Brian Davis (66) and American Keegan Bradley (67) were a further stroke back at 11 under.
Vegas, who cruised to a six-stroke victory over Andres Romero at last year's Argentina Open, charged to the top of the leaderboard with an impeccable display from tee to green.
He piled up eight birdies and three bogeys to hold the clubhouse lead before being caught later on by former US Ryder Cup player Weekley.
"I'm just hitting it great from the tee which is always good, especially on a course like this," Vegas, 26, said. "It was a great round."
Asked how he felt to be at the top of the leaderboard in a PGA Tour event, he replied: "It's a lot of fun. I'm enjoying it as much as I can because we know how complicated golf can be.
"I'm having a good time, as I always do. I'm just loving it, trying to play the best I can. So far, things worked out."
Vegas, who reached the semi-finals of the 2007 US amateur championship, has come a long way since first picking up the game from his father in Venezuela.
"I hit plastic balls, rocks, whatever I could find and start hitting everything around the house, breaking windows and all kinds of stuff," he said.
"That's kind of how my game started, just by looking at my dad. He's always been a big fan of golf and so just by looking at him I started doing it."
Weekley was delighted to enjoy another productive day on the greens after struggling with his putting at the end of last year.
He has switched to a new 34-inch long putter for this week and, so far, the move has reaped instant reward.
"I feel comfortable with this putter," Weekley said after totalling 27 putts on the day. "From three to 15 foot, I feel like I can make it. I was hoping that this would happen."
Weekley had never met Vegas until the end of Thursday's second round and said he knew very little about the PGA Tour rookie from Venezuela.
"I ain't got a clue," the beaming American added with his laidback, southern drawl. "First time I ever shook hands with him right there. But you got to show a little respect, you know. I mean he's on the leaderboard."
Among the bigger names competing in the third Tour event of the season, former world number one David Duval was at nine under after carding a 67 at La Quinta Country Club and a stroke in front of last year's money list winner Matt Kuchar (70).