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Damage control keeps Vegas on top

Jhonattan Vegas did just enough to keep himself tied for the lead for the second straight night.

It wasn’t as spectacular as his 10-birdie opening round that placed him in a first-place tie on Thursday, but Jhonattan Vegas’s 4-under 67 Friday was enough to keep him tied for the lead after 36 holes at TPC Summerlin.

The round wasn’t without its struggles. Vegas hit his second shot into the water hazard short of the green on the par-5 16th and went on to bogey the easiest hole on the course. Four holes later, he thought that he’d hit his tee shot on the par-4 5th out of bounds, hit a provisional, but found his original ball in a hazard left of the fairway. After taking a drop, Vegas went on to bogey that hole, but he picked up two birdies down the stretch to join Kevin Na and Charlie Wi at 12 under.

“I literally didn’t really see where the ball ended up,” Vegas said. “I was just looking for it right there in the trees and thinking that I would have to hit my fifth shot from the right side and then one of the scorers found it way down there. Luckily it was my ball. How it got there, I have no clue, but it was one of those fortunate breaks that you get and when you’re playing well.”

Vegas hit two fewer greens and needed two more putts than he did in his opening round. He kept himself on top by limiting the damage on the two holes when things could have gotten away from him. An eagle from a greenside bunker on the drivable par-4 15th didn’t hurt matters, either.

“I felt like I putted really well today,” Vegas said. “My ball striking wasn’t as good as it was yesterday and that’s kind of why the round wasn’t as good as yesterday. But my putting’s been pretty well, which that’s kind of what I’ve worked for. And hopefully I can continue that for two more days and we’ll be right there where we are.”

The rookie won in his second start as a PGA TOUR member, at January’s Bob Hope Classic and continued his strong play through early March. He’s emerged from a mid-year drought where he missed six of seven cuts by making his last nine entering this week. None of those nine made cuts resulted in a top-30 finish, however.

Though this is his first time in contention since early in the season, Vegas just plans to stay the course over the weekend as he looks to become the second rookie to win twice in 2011.

“Same gameplan,” he said. “I feel like I’m playing great. Stay aggressive, try to keep making putts and we’ll see what happens.”

Photo by Halleran, Getty Images

Chris Dunham, PGATOUR

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