We’re counting down the 25 best former Texas athletes still competing in their sport. Each day we’ll reveal a new athlete.
No. 23 Jhonattan Vegas, golf
The first non football player in the rankings, Vegas, 33, is the No.55-ranked golfer in the world and one of four Texas Longhorns in the top 100. Vegas’s life in his home country of Venezuela, where his father once signed a petition to recall then dictator Hugo Chavez, was the subject of a terrific Sports Illustrated profile in 2012. The piece also captured just how Texas coach John Fields decided to take Vegas on as a member of the Longhorn golf team: “Texas coach John Fields first met Vegas at the Cypresswood range. After watching exactly two swings Fields said, ‘We’ll take him’ — and he meant it.”
Vegas joined Texas in fall of 2003 and graduated in 2008 with a degree in kinesiology. He reached the 2007 U.S. Amateur semifinals as his biggest highlight at Texas.
Enjoy his trick shots:
Pro career: Vegas became a pro in the summer of 2008 and made the PGA tour in 2011, following a 2010 season in which he won the Argentina Open. In his first year on the PGA tour he won the Bob Hope Classic. Five years later in 2016, he won his second tournament, the RBC Canadian Open and repeated as champion of that tournament in 2017. He has career earnings of $10,518,506 and resides in Houston. Earlier this month Vegas finished 38th at the Masters tournament.
Why he’s here: There are three golfers on the list, and all three are in the top 60 of the World Golf rankings. While Vegas isn’t a house hold name like one current Longhorn on tour, he’s a veteran golfer who over the last seven years has established himself on tour. When he turned pro in 2008, Vegas was the 1,381st ranked golfer in the world. He finished 2017 as the No. 44-ranked golfer. At 33, he’s entering his prime, and it’s not crazy to imagine him one day joining Jordan Spieth, Tom Kite, Justin Leonard and Ben Crenshaw as Longhorn major winners.
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