Hot start fires Jhonattan Vegas at The Players Championship

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Something clicked early for Jhonattan Vegas, and when it did Vegas knew Saturday would be a good day for him.

Jhonattan Vegas is six shots behind leader Kevin Na after he had 4-under-par 68 on Saturday. Vegas missed the cut last year.  JOHN RAOUX/ASSOCIATED PRESS
JOHN RAOUX/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Jhonattan Vegas is six shots behind leader Kevin Na after he had 4-under-par 68 on Saturday. Vegas missed the cut last year.

The PGA Tour’s first and only Venezuelan pro started Saturday’s third round with a birdie and an eagle before posting 4-under-par 68 and ending the day at 6-under par for The Players Championship.

“Three-under after two holes,” Vegas said. “And I knew if I could continue that round, that I was going to be in a good position going into Sunday.”

Vegas’ eagle came on the second hole, where he holed a 79-foot chip from the primary rough.

This year’s results show a marked difference for Vegas from last year when he was a PGA Tour rookie. Then, Vegas was 11-over par after the first two rounds and did not make the cut.

Now, Vegas is just six shots off leader Kevin Na.

Vegas was one of three players who played their way into the top 10 with low scores on the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course. Rickie Fowler shot 66 and rose from 17th to third.Johnson Wagner and Bo Van Pelt both snuck into the top-10 as well, sitting at 5-under par. Ben Curtis rose into the top-10, continuing a streak of consistency, unusual in his career, shooting 70 the day to take him to 7-under par for the tournament.

ENGLISH FADES: Harris English’s first shot might have been his undoing.

The former Georgia golfer yanked his tee shot left on the par-4 first and struck a volunteer in the head. The volunteer, Denny Meredith, of Jacksonville, Fla., fell to the ground and was later taken to a hospital for tests. Meredith had an open gash on the right side of his head when English arrived to apologize.

English gave Meredith an autographed glove and thanked him for volunteering. Playing partner Matt Kuchar also signed a glove and gave it to Meredith, who has volunteered at The Players each of the last 11 years.

The scary scene might have bothered English, who shot 79.

STAYING DRY: The water around the Island green on the par-3 17th hole didn’t get much action on Saturday. Only four players found the water, compared to 18 in the first round and 12 in the second round.

That adds up to 34 through three rounds. The final tally for 2011 was 40. Since records on balls in the water were started in 2003, the most balls in the drink for 72 holes is 93 in 2007. The fewest is 29, in 2003 and 2010

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