Tampa, Fla—Jhonattan Vegas, the PGA pro from Venezuela, shows that when there is talent, nothing else matters.
In 100 B.C. Rome, participants used a bent stick to hit a stuffed leather ball. Paganica became the first record of a golf-related game in human history.
Over two millennia later, golf was played in Venezuela for the first time in 1950. Vegas overcame his country´s historical delay and decided to go pro.
“My first memory in golf is when I was a three-year-old boy playing at a golf course built for an oil company with my parents,¨ said Vegas in Spanish. ¨It´s a really good memory.
“Since then, I´ve been in love with golf.”
When Vegas was a teenager, he won a Junior National Championship golf tournament in Venezuela. That victory encouraged the golfer to pursue the dream of becoming a full-time player.
The 222nd ranked golfer in the PGA admitted that there are many other talented players in his country, however golf in Venezuela needs some improvements.
“Venezuelan golf needs more support from the institutions,¨ said Vegas, who represented his native country at the 2009 Golf World Cup. If we get the right support, we will become one of the most powerful countries in the region.”
Vegas moved to Austin, Texas in 2002 where he received a full scholarship to study Kinesiology and play for Texas University.
“As a kinesiologist, I have learned about how my body works, what can I do to avoid injuries, and if I get injured, how to recover from it,” said Vegas, who dreams about winning a major championship before retirement.
After graduating from his kinesiology program, Vegas decided to go pro, and two years later he joined the PGA.
However not everybody has high hopes for his talent.
“There are still many people who do not believe in me and in what I do,¨ said Vegas, who won his first professional golf tournament in 2010 at the Preferred Health System Wichita Open. ¨But it´s part of the process.”
Despite living outside Venezuela, Vegas spoke about his roots and what means for him to be a Venezuelan.
“We are hard-working people, and we are always making jokes,” said Vegas, whose favourite Venezuelan dish is cachapa.
The Maturín, Venezuela native was only nine holes away from taking home the Farmers Insurance Open last month in San Diego, Calif, but he could not hold his lead and finished fourth.
“The San Diego tournament gave me the confidence to go through the rest of the season,” said Vegas, after practising for the Valspar Open at the Innisbrook Resort golf course. “When you get so close, you realize you are doing okay, and I hope the best results are yet to come.”
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