It was an unusual week as any in the long history of the RBC Canadian Open.
With drought conditions prevalent in Ontario, the host Glen Abbey Golf Course was drawing comparisons with the Muirfield set-up for the Open Championship in 2013.
The results this week proved to be just as unpredictable as the bouncy playing surface.
Among those as likely contenders heading into the final round of play were a former champion (Brandt Snedeker), a Canadian Amateur (Jared du Toit) and a current U.S. Open Champion (Dustin Johnson).
Instead of what seemed like a probable ending to have one of those players hoist the trophy in Oakville, it was Jhonattan Vegas who made the party his own.
The thirty-one year-old Venezuelan made birdies on the final three holes on Sunday to post a 64 (-8) and then dodged the pursuers one by one until his second PGA TOUR victory was securely in hand.
He had began the day five strokes off the lead in the 128th start of his PGA TOUR career.
“That’s the fortunate breaks that sometimes you need to be a champion on the PGA Tour,” reflected Vegas when asked about the uncertainty that sometimes accompanies the sport. “It’s a great feeling. I mean, last week, I had a six-shot lead going into the weekend and lost by three. I was five back starting today and won by one. It’s a crazy sport. You’ve just got to keep your head down and play hard at every shot.”
Vegas’ -12 total (73-69-70-64) proved to be better than three other players; John Rahm, Martin Laird, and Dustin Johnson.
After a fast start to his PGA TOUR career with a win at the 2011 CareerBuilder Challenge, the last number of years have been a battle for the affable young man. Major surgery in 2013 on his shoulder derailed his play and he has had to work hard to re-establish himself.
“The biggest thing, I think it’s the belief; the belief that you can do it; the belief that you can go shoot low numbers competing against the best players in the world. That’s just the difference. I mean, because from where I was last year to where I am right now, obviously a couple of things have improved.”
Next month Vegas will represent Venezuela at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Vegas’ win earns him a two-year exemption to the PGA TOUR, carrying him through the 2017-18 PGA TOUR Season.
With the win, Vegas also earns a spot into this week’s PGA Championship, the 2017 Tournament of Champions and 2017 Masters Tournament.
New Canadian Star
Despite the fact he did not really factor in the race to win the trophy on Sunday, Canada’s Jared du Toit was still the talk of the event.
du Toit, a member of Golf Canada’s National Amateur Team, posted a 1-under 71 in the final pairing with 54-hole leader Brandt Snedeker to finish at 9-under 279 (T9).
He had quite a day on continual support as he lapped the Jack Nicklaus designed Glen Abbey course in the feature group.
“Unbelievable. The atmosphere they were providing was unbelievable,” said du Toit, when asked about the experience of playing in the final round of the RBC Canadian Open. “Every tee box, like I said yesterday, every tee box, every green, everyone was clapping, hollering, “Go Canada!” It was truly unbelievable. I’m on cloud nine right now.”
He added, “To come out this week and play well, Top-10 feels really good.”
Adam Hadwin (T49) claimed the Rivermead Cup awarded to the low Canadian professional at the RBC Canadian Open.
Canadian Finishes – 2016 RBC CANADIAN OPEN
- T9 – Jared du Toit (a) – Kimberley, B.C. – 67-71-70-71, -9
- T49 – Adam Hadwin – Abbotsford, B.C. – 72-70-74-71, -1
- T77 – Garrett Rank (a) – Elmira, Ont. – 69-75-76-76, 8
- 80 – Corey Conners – Listowel, Ont. – 75-71-76-78, 12