Former Longhorns Spieth, Vegas have followed distinct paths


Photo Credit: Emmanuel Briseño | Daily Texan Staff

The 13th and 15th greens at Austin Country Club — normally the 4th and 6th greens for members — sit adjacent from one another, with a picturesque view of the 360 Bridge and Lake Austin pervading throughout the background.

 During Tuesday’s practice round at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, two former Longhorn stars stood on these greens rolling some putts and scoping out different pin locations — Jordan Spieth on the 13th and Jhonattan Vegas on the 15th.

 A healthy number of folks gathered around the 13th green to get a glimpse of Spieth, a two-time major winner and the No. 6 player in the world.

 “It’s nice to be able to come back and actually work and play in front of pretty much a hometown crowd here,” Spieth said.

But a mere 40 yards away stood Vegas, surrounded by hardly anyone except his caddie. It’s easy to infer why the disparity in fanfare between the two, as Spieth’s and Vegas’ careers have gone in much different directions since their time on the 40 Acres.

Vegas, who played at Texas from 2004-07, is nowhere near the star Spieth has become in the past couple years. He doesn’t have the same name recognition as Spieth or fellow Texas greats Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite and Justin Leonard. But Vegas knows that — and it doesn’t bother him one bit.

“Obviously to compare myself with those guys, not quite there, I would say,” Vegas said. “They’re major winners, won multiple times on the PGA Tour on great events. I’ve only won twice. I feel like I have obviously a long way to be there.”

The road to get into this week’s exclusive field of the top 64 golfers in the world was no easy task for Vegas, who currently is ranked No. 61. By the end of 2015, he had lost his full-time PGA Tour status after a few disappointing seasons. He hadn’t won since his first Tour win in 2011 at the Bob Hope Classic.

“Losing my full status at the end of ’15 was definitely something hard to swallow,” Vegas said. “So that allowed me to make some key changes to actually get better.”

Vegas got a much-needed boost when he won at the RBC Canadian Open in July 2016. Since then he has three top-15 finishes on Tour, including a tied-fourth finish at the Honda Classic last month.

 As for Spieth, his career has been under the microscope for quite some time now. His historical 2015 run of winning the Masters, U.S. Open and FedEx Cup helped him rise to No. 1 in the world.

But after his back-nine collapse on Sunday at the Masters last year in which he blew a five-shot lead and finished tied for second behind England’s Danny Willett, seemingly all the talk has turned to if Spieth can bounce back at Augusta in two weeks.

“I’m thinking about it more and more as we get closer,” Spieth said. “That’s not abnormal. It’s been that way.”

Both Spieth and Vegas may be at different levels in their careers with different goals. But as for now, they’re back in their element this week in a familiar city and at a course they played many times in college.

They might even show some of their old colors while at it. 

“For sure,” Vegas said. “The wardrobe is definitely a little orange this week.”