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Jhonattan Vegas battles against the odds on tortuous journey to the Open

first_imgNobody could reasonably accuse Jhonattan Vegas of lacking appetite for the Open challenge. Lesser golfers would have taken the hint and not bothered taking to the 1st tee at Carnoustie. Or, indeed, getting near it. Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks. Since you’re here… Share on Pinterest Tiger Woods feels ‘blessed to be back’ at his first Open since 2015 The Open features Support The Guardian European Tour Vegas’s tournament build-up was quite a saga – it culminated in a last‑ditch helicopter trip to the Angus coast from Glasgow, the 33-year-old Venezuelan having been afforded only two hours of sleep on an overnight flight from Toronto. His clubs had not joined him.And yet, even after signing for an opening round of 76, the smile could not be wiped from Vegas’s face as he recounted a tale of woe.The long, long journey had begun a week ago, when Vegas realised his reading of dates in American rather than British format meant the expiration of his UK visa had not registered. He reapplied but for the wrong kind. Still with time in hand, further drama unfolded.“We fixed it on Monday and it was supposed to be in Houston on Tuesday, which meant I could get a flight and still be here on Wednesday,” he said. “That didn’t happen because UPS shut down for the day. The visa didn’t leave New York.“I waited in a car for seven hours outside the Consulate in Houston, waiting for it to show up. It didn’t. I got it Wednesday morning, then got a flight from Houston to here via Toronto. It’s been like a horror movie happening for the past week. If someone had tried to do it on purpose, you couldn’t manage it. Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth fail to shine as lesser Open lights sparkle “Luckily the equipment vans were still here. If it was the PGA Tour, they would have been gone and I’d have been playing with some member’s clubs. My caddie scrambled some. Different brands from mine. I hit 20 balls. Then went out and gave it a try. As long as I had a shot at making it, I was going to try. Ask anyone in the world if they would play in the Open showing up two hours beforehand, they would take it.”Tony Finau, who shot 67 in the company of Vegas, expressed his admiration. “I knew 15 minutes before we teed off,” Finau said. “I don’t know how he even made contact with the ball on the first couple of holes. He’s such a great guy and such a great competitor.”Kang Sung-hoon’s appearance among the leaders raised eyebrows, given the controversial circumstances via which he earned an Open spot. The Korean was accused of cheating by his playing partner, Joel Dahmen, in the final round of the Quicken Loans National. Kang’s 64 sealed his Carnoustie berth, with the PGA Tour content to side with their rules official’s assertion that he had taken a penalty drop correctly. Dahmen was vehement in his claims to the contrary. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Topics Read more Jordan Spieth spoils good Open start as Justin Rose has camera trouble Share on WhatsApp Here Kang opened with a 69, thereby placing the Maryland matter back into sharp focus. Kang revealed he had attempted to speak with Dahmen – who expressed his displeasure on Twitter – at the next tournament in which the pair played. “That didn’t work out great,” Kang said. “The way he said it, on Twitter, was not right.”Kang resisted the opportunity to give his version of events in full. “I followed the rules by the rules official,” he said. “I think I did the right thing.“Even when I say something, a few people still kind of think I did something wrong. And if someone believes in me, they aren’t going to trust what Joel said.“I really want to say a lot of things about it, the truth about what happened. But, if I talk about it more and more, it gets worse and worse and worse. It’s not going to really help my golf game at all.” The Open 2018 Read more Share via Email Golf Share on LinkedIn PGA Tour … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. 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