Two holes-in-one at difficult 15th hole

For the first 10 years the Honda Classic was staged at PGA National, not a single hole-in-one was recorded at the difficult 15th hole.

This weekend there were two.

Jhonattan Vegas matched the feat Sunday previously accomplished by Scott Stallings on Thursday, landing a 6-iron shot a few feet short of the pin and watching it roll in for an ace that helped him post a 6-under 64 that sent him from 50th place to a tie for sixth.

American Honda was offering a new CRV for an ace on the hole, but initial reports said only Stallings’ feat would be rewarded. Late Sunday afternoon, it was announced both players would get a car.

Vegas was hoping his strong showing in the tournament could lead to a reward he would consider even more meaningful.

“I’m trying to work my way into the Match Play at Austin,” Vegas said. “That’s where I went to school, and I have a lot of good friends. So this round does a lot for that. So I’m super-excited.”

A native of Venezuela, Vegas attended the University of Texas. He came into this week ranked No. 68 in the world; the top 64 as of March 13 qualify. He will play next week at Mexico City but not the week after at Tampa.

Vegas’ ace on Sunday came into a brisk 15 mph breeze and looked good from the moment it left the club.

“It was an absolutely perfect 6-iron,” he said. “I knew I hit it absolutely perfect. I did my part and luckily it went in.”

It was his fifth hole-in-one overall and third in competitive play. One came on the Tour in Athens, Ga., and the other last year at the Barbasol Championship in Alabama.

Downhill for Gribble after first round: Cody Gribble was feeling pretty good after his first round at the Honda Classic.

The Texan shot a six-under 64 to grab a share of the lead, putting together a round in which he hit every green in regulation - a first in a Honda Classic at PGA National - while recording seven birdies and one bogey.

“I could go out and shoot 75 (Friday) and I won’t be talking to you all for awhile,” Gribble said following his first round.

It got worse … much worse.

Gribble, a Tour rookie, shot 76 on Friday, just making the cut, which fell at even par. He rebounded some on the third day with a 1-over 71 before the wheels fell off completely.

Entering Sunday’s final round seven strokes behind leader Rickie Fowler, Gribble carded a 10-over 80, his worst round in 17 Tour events. He had four double-bogeys, two bogeys, a birdie and an eagle. His bogeys came on the No. 2 (two shots out of the rough), No. 8 (tee shot into the rough and third shot into the bunker), No. 11 (tee shot into the water) and No. 14 (two penalty strokes).

Gribble was 11-over for the tournament and, after leading on the first day, finished last among all players who missed the cut.

Mexico bound: Fifteen players from the Honda Classic field as well as an unspecified number of players who didn’t compete in the tournament were aboard a charter jet scheduled to leave Palm Beach International Airport for Mexico City Sunday night. More players will take a second charter after the annual Pro-Member event set for Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach Monday.

Sponsors of the WGC event in Mexico City agreed to pick up the cost of the charter when the tournament was established last year in an effort to make the six-hour trip as easy as possible for players. Another charter will ferry players back to Tampa for the Valspar Championship March 9-12.

For all that trouble, Vegas sounded as if he still preferred last year’s schedule, when the Honda kicked off a Florida swing that lasted four weeks.

“It is what it is,” Vegas said. “At the end of the day, we can’t complain too much. It helps a little, but it’s another flight. You still have to sit on a plane for six hours.”

Tom D’Angelo contributed to this report.

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