Julio Vegas

 

Julio Vegas followed his brother to Texas and is now the only senior on this year’s squad and one of five retuners from last year’s championship team. Vegas helped lead Texas to a national title this past summer and is looking for another one. 

Photo Credit: Derek Stout | Daily Texan Staff

Julio Vegas has experienced just about everything during his career with the Texas Longhorns.

Currently in the midst of his fifth season, Vegas has competed in his fair share of regular and postseason golf tournaments, and he has been with Texas long enough to witness the Longhorns jump from an average team to collegiate champions. He is the lone senior on this year’s roster, and his experience, dependable play and remarkable work ethic have allowed him to emerge as one of the Longhorns’ primary leaders.

“One of the main things about this team is that everybody is able to play,” Vegas said. “I just focus on myself and show my teammates how to work hard and how to behave on and off the field. I try to lead by example.”

Vegas grew up in Venezuela and joined the Longhorns in 2008, following in the footsteps of his brother, Jhonattan, who played at Texas from 2004 through 2007. After redshirting his first year and not playing in his freshman season, Vegas made his debut with the Longhorns as a sophomore in 2010 at the PING Preview and became a regular contributor from then on.

Vegas enjoyed a breakout year as a junior in 2011-2012, competing in nearly all of the Longhorns’ events and becoming one of the team’s most consistent and productive players. He recorded an average score of 72.07 per round in 13 tournaments, good for third on the team, and logged his first career event victory at the Morris Williams Intercollegiate. Overall Vegas registered six top 10 finishes last season and was named to the All-Big 12 Team and Golfweek All-American Second Team.

While Vegas’ strides on the golf course were a significant contribution to the Longhorns’ title run last season, the Texas coaching staff believes his devotion to working hard and his hunger for success are what separate the senior from other players.

“Julio is a very special guy as far as players go,” head coach John Fields said. “His work ethic is outstanding, and his confidence is remarkable. He just has such a large desire to be successful, and he is extremely directed toward that in whatever he is doing. A lot of people talk about giving their absolute best, but they’re really only giving 30 or 40 percent. Julio gives the absolute.”

The Texas golfers agree with this and believe that Vegas’ drive makes him a good role model and a strong teammate.

“It’s his last year. We know he wants to make it special, and we want to make it special for him,” junior Toni Hakula said. “You can see it in his demeanor. He is a really hard worker, and he definitely brings something special to the team.”

Vegas credits much of his success in golf to his brother, who is currently competing in the PGA Tour. He believes that Jhonattan Vegas set a strong example in preparing for tournaments through hard work and devotion, and his brother’s glowing reports about Texas were a large part of Vegas’ decision to play here.

“Every time he came back to Venezuela, he told me about Austin and the awesome people and coaches, and that’s a big reason why I came,” Vegas said. “I don’t regret it. It’s been a great experience, and hopefully there will be more great experiences this year.”

At the conclusion of this season, Vegas hopes to follow his brother’s lead once again and play golf professionally. For now, though, the senior is narrowing his focus to this season, seeking to win another title with the Longhorns.

“Our goal is to win another championship,” Vegas said. “After school I’ll try to play pro golf. I’m not sure when it will happen, but I’m putting all of my focus on this year because I’m not sure of what’s in the future.”

The future seems bright for Vegas no matter where he ends up, and this season he could very well end up being the key to another Longhorns title run.

Printed on Friday, October 19, 2012 as: Vegas seeks second title

 

Taking an early look at TexasÂ’ golf team

If you have never been out to Steiner Ranch to see the Longhorns play a round of golf, next year may be the perfect time to catch what is sure to be a talented team on the links. In fact, it may prove to be one of the best teams Texas has ever fielded. Here’s a look at the projected starters for next year’s men’s golf team.

Dylan Frittelli (Pretoria, South Africa) — One of five seniors, Frittelli has shown over the years that he is the real deal. Has two tournament victories in his collegiate career, was named the 2010 Big 12 Player of the Year and is the top-ranked South African amateur. Expect Frittelli to lead this team with his strong play and experience.

Julio Vegas (Maturin, Venezuela) — The junior came on the scene with a bang late last year, proving he deserves a spot among the starters. After redshirting his first year, Vegas also sat out his second year with the team. A powerful player at 24 years old, he also brings experience to the table. He owns two Venezuelan National Junior Championships and is also the younger brother of Jhonattan Vegas, a former Longhorn and current PGA Tour golfer. He isn’t the most consistent player, but Vegas should turn things around in a big way. The talent is undoubtedly there, so it’s more of an issue of harnessing it properly.

Toni Hakula (Espoo, Finland) — The third of the Longhorns’ international players, this sophomore is ready for his chance at the spotlight. The 2011 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year has already played in several professional events as an amateur and even finished as runner-up twice in two events in Denmark. He plays beyond his years in terms of skill and overall confidence on the course, and was integral in Texas’ success a year ago after being used as a starter more often near the end of the season. Look for Hakula to establish himself among the nation’s best young golfers.

Cody Gribble (Highland Park, Texas) — Gribble, a junior, enjoyed a rather fruitful amateur career before he came to Texas, but has yet to display his full ability as a Longhorn. As a freshman he showed flashes of brilliance with second- and third-place finishes to his name, but as a sophomore failed to finish better than 20th in any event. After a number of victories and accolades in high school, Gribble obviously has the talent to be successful. He just needs to find his stroke again.

Jordan Spieth (Dallas, Texas) — The newly crowned top amateur nationwide, Spieth will bring a highly refined golf game to Austin. The freshman has already played with the big boys on the PGA Tour, finishing as high as 16th place in the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship. It’s not likely a player of his caliber would redshirt, as head coach John Fields doesn’t have much to teach this guy. If you like watching exceptional players on the course, Spieth is a sight to see. He is skilled in every aspect of the game, and could be the missing piece to the puzzle for a Longhorn golf championship.

Frittelli, Vegas and Hakula are just about locks to start in every tournament for the Longhorns. Having spent most of last season in the starting rotation, they should do the same in the upcoming campaign. Gribble has a fair shot at starting, but the team’s other four seniors could find their way into starting roles as well. Seniors Alex Moon, Steffan Schmieding, Brett Spencer and Adam Wennerstrom have all filled in sparingly in their time as Longhorns, and are capable of carding low rounds with consistency. Junior Johnathan Schnitzer may also vie for a starting spot, as his game began to improve late last season.

Along with the arrival of Spieth, two more freshman will be welcomed to the team in the fall. Kramer Hickok of Plano and Lake Travis’ Tayler Termeer round out an impressive freshman class for the Longhorns. Don’t expect much out of Hickok and Termeer just yet, as talent runs deep with this team.

Whoever the Longhorns plan to use in a given event, rest assured they will be the best-suited player to do so. There is an immense amount of talent and experience on the team, and it should prove to be an exciting and possibly very successful season.

Men's Golf

The Longhorns used their last two tournaments to become the nation’s No. 1 ranked team. Now they’re using this week’s tourney to keep that coveted spot atop the rankings.

Texas is well on their way to winning their third consecutive tournament at the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational as Jordan Spieth maintained his spot at the top of the individual leaderboard. The freshman shot a 1-over 73 and holds a four-stroke lead over Stanford’s Patrick Rodgers and Andrew Yun, who each sit at -2. Junior Julio Vegas and senior Dylan Fritelli are not far behind Spieth. Vegas posted a 1-over 73 to bring his overall score to 143 (+1) for the tournament, good for fourth through two rounds. Fritelli shot a team-best 1-under 71 Monday to break even for the tournament at 144 (E).

The Longhorns, who notched a 20-stroke victory in the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate and a 16-stroke win at the Jack Nickalus Invitational earlier this month, lead the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational by 10 strokes halfway through the tournament. At -2, Texas is the only team under par with No. 32 LSU a distant second at +8. The Longhorns will tee off with the Tigers and No. 11 North Florida, who is in third place, at +11, beginning at 8:40 a.m. Tuesday.

Printed on Tuesday, October 25, 2011 as: Texas looks to win third-straight tourney, leads by 10 strokes after second round

Men's Golf

In the final round of the Big 12 Championship, sophomore Julio Vegas played his worst round of this season and perhaps his career. One of the Longhorns’ top talents, Vegas started off bad and ended even worse. Seven bogeys and three double-bogeys later, he found himself at 26th on the leaderboard at 17-over. Not exactly the kind of round that wins championships.

It couldn’t have come at a more disastrous time for the Longhorns either. Entering the final day, Texas sat in third place behind Oklahoma State and Texas A&M and had a legitimate shot at the title. After Vegas’ implosion, the gap between the Longhorns and eventual champion OSU became insurmountable. The Cowboys were able to seal their record ninth Big 12 team title, and their very own Morgan Hoffmann claimed the individual crown, shooting even-par over four rounds. The Cowboys finished at 19-over, second-place Texas A&M came in at 32-over, and the Longhorns rounded out the top three at 40-over.

The rest of the Longhorns fared well on the final day and were the reason Texas did not slip on the team leaderboard.

Freshman Toni Hakula capped off the event at 9-over after recording seven birdies in the final round. Hakula remains consistent in his play and finished in a tie for seventh place individually.

Junior Dylan Frittelli finished at 10-over and tied for 11th.

Doing his best Vegas impression was senior Bobby Hudson, who also collected five bogeys and a pair of double-bogeys in the final round. The back nine in particular were an issue for the Longhorns, as the team compiled a total of 18 bogeys over the back nine in the final round. Despite his less than stellar round, Hudson finished at 14-over and in 19th place.

Sophomore Cody Gribble shot 5-over in his final round and finished in a tie for 20th place overall at 15-over.
The result may have very well been different had Vegas not taken a nosedive in the final round, but it is not the end of the road for Texas. The NCAA regional sites have yet to be determined, but play will begin May 19, and it is nearly assured the team will be selected after a high finish in its conference tournament.

Men's Golf

Jelly beans and chocolate eggs didn’t keep the Longhorns from starting off strong in the opening rounds of the Big 12 Championship Tournament. After two rounds, Texas is seated comfortably in second place, only three strokes behind leader Oklahoma State. The Cowboys ended the day with two players tied for first place on the individual leaderboard, and are at 18-over as a team.

In his first career postseason appearance, sophomore Julio Vegas recorded eight birdies over his two rounds to finish at one-over. Vegas is also in fourth place on the individual leaderboard.

Junior Dylan Frittelli shot six-over on the front nine, but was able to salvage the back nine for a four-over first round. In his second round, Frittelli had four birdies, finished the day at six-over and tied for 11th individually. Frittelli was paired with Oklahoma State’s Peter Uihlein, who has been the consensus No. 1 college player this year, and Texas A&M’s Jordan Russell, who is currently ranked 15th in the nation.

Senior Bobby Hudson, who is playing in his fourth consecutive Big 12 Championship, had four birdies in the first round, but his 10 bogeys and one double bogey had him finish the day at six-over. Hudson is also tied for 11th place on the individual leaderboard.

The third Longhorn sitting in a tie for 11th place is freshman Toni Hakula, who carded a two-over first round and a four-over second round to finish the day at six-over.

Sophomore Cody Gribble turned in a three-over first round and a four-over second to end the day at seven-over, tied for 18th place individually.

Texas tees off at 8:50 this morning with Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, who is in third place.

Men's Golf

When Texas head coach John Fields hits the recruiting trail, his search goes far beyond the borders of the United States. In his 13th year with the program, Fields scours the globe for international talent.

“I look for great players that are highly ranked, whether that’s in Texas or internationally,” Fields said. “I look for guys who fit with the University and are going to have fun.”

A young Finnish man, a Venezuelan and a South African playing golf together sounds like the beginning of a terrible joke, but it’s merely the most recent crop of Fields’ imported talent.

Led by the Pretoria, South Africa-native Dylan Frittelli, Texas has proved that international experience is a valuable tool. Frittelli, a junior liberal arts major, had already compiled an impressive string of wins before he even set foot on campus in Austin.

He was victorious in the 2007 Callaway Junior World Golf Championship and was named the top amateur and junior player in South Africa after winning the South African boys’ championship in 2008. Now he is ranked as the 55th-best collegiate player in the nation by Golfweek.

“I definitely hold myself to high standards and use those rankings as a benchmark for success,” Frittelli said.

Sophomore Julio Vegas compiled a few victories of his own before coming to Texas. The younger brother of a current PGA Tour rookie and former Longhorn standout, Jhonattan Vegas, Julio is more mature than his sophomore class title suggests. The 23-year-old was crowned the Venezuelan National Junior Champion in 2003 and 2004 and finished second behind his brother in the championship.

Julio also competed in the 2005 World Junior Golf Team championship as a member of the Venezuelan team. After redshirting two years ago, and not seeing any action last year, Julio has brought his vast international experience to the team this year, grabbing multiple top-15 finishes in the process.

The youngest of the three international players on the team is Toni Hakula from Espoo, Finland. Hakula also claimed a major junior title before he became a Longhorn, winning the 2008 Finnish Junior Championship. He also competed in the 2009 British Amateur Championship. Golf isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about Finland, and it wasn’t even the first sport Hakula played.

“I played hockey and tennis for seven years,” Hakula said. “I was just the best at golf, so I decided to stick with it.”

The international bent is just one element the Longhorns bring to the postseason, which begins today with the Big 12 Championship at Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, Kan. Nebrwaska hosts the event. Oklahoma State has won the conference title eight times, including last year, while Texas enters having claimed three conference championships in the past, most recently in 2004.
 

Men's golf

Another tournament, another successful showing for the No. 8 ranked Texas men’s golf team. The trip to Columbus, Ohio, to compete in the Jack Nicklaus Invitational at Scioto Country Club reaped them a third-place finish in the final team standings. The seeds of such labors were sewn in the last two rounds of the tournament, where the Longhorns scored the best collective score for those 36 holes out of the entire field with an 8-over par.

A strong finish like that was just what the Longhorns needed, as they struggled out of the gate in the first of their three rounds.

“We got off to a poor start,” said Texas golf head coach John Fields. “I’m really pleased that our guys came back the way they did the final two rounds, with the low score over the final 36 holes.”

The surge to finish near the top of the standings — Texas was only one shot behind the runner-up, Illinois — was spearheaded by the familiar names of senior Bobby Hudson and junior Dylan Frittelli. Each finished in the top 10 individually, with Hudson tying for eighth place at 7-over after struggling a bit on the first nine holes. Frittelli, who notched his first top-10 finish of the young season, earned 10th place with an 8-over.

“Bobby came back today with a 31 on the final nine, which was certainly extremely helpful in getting us to a third-place finish,” said Fields. “He just did not let down, and I did not expect he would. The same is true for Dylan, who played extremely well today.”

With the usually sensational sophomore Cody Gribble not playing up to his standards, Fields was glad to see sophomore Julio Vegas step up. In just his second college start, Vegas tied for 11th place with his score of 11-over.

“Julio had a good summer and he has used that momentum to come in and help us this fall, and that has been great,” said Fields. “We needed him to do that.”

The Longhorns leave the Midwest with a Texas-sized chip on their shoulders. They finished with their best team ranking of the season, but would surely like a mulligan for their admittedly poor first round of the tournament. After all, Texas finished only seven shots shy of first-place team Oklahoma State. Fields believes that it’s the tournaments like these that will shape his team into the championship-caliber squad he expects them to become.

“We know we must get significantly better,” he said. “Every player on our team is challenging themselves to do that. The only way to do that is to challenge ourselves with this great schedule with events at great courses. Playing here was a great experience for our guys.” 

Another tournament, another successful showing for the No. 8 ranked Texas men’s golf team. The trip to Columbus, Ohio, to compete in the Jack Nicklaus Invitational at Scioto Country Club reaped them a third-place finish in the final team standings. The seeds of such labors were sewn in the last two rounds of the tournament, where the Longhorns scored the best collective score for those 36 holes out of the entire field with an 8-over par.

A strong finish like that was just what the Longhorns needed, as they struggled out of the gate in the first of their three rounds.

“We got off to a poor start,” said Texas golf head coach John Fields. “I’m really pleased that our guys came back the way they did the final two rounds, with the low score over the final 36 holes.”

The surge to finish near the top of the standings — Texas was only one shot behind the runner-up, Illinois — was spearheaded by the familiar names of senior Bobby Hudson and junior Dylan Frittelli. Each finished in the top 10 individually, with Hudson tying for eighth place at 7-over after struggling a bit on the first nine holes. Frittelli, who notched his first top-10 finish of the young season, earned 10th place with an 8-over.

“Bobby came back today with a 31 on the final nine, which was certainly extremely helpful in getting us to a third-place finish,” said Fields. “He just did not let down, and I did not expect he would. The same is true for Dylan, who played extremely well today.”

With the usually sensational sophomore Cody Gribble not playing up to his standards, Fields was glad to see sophomore Julio Vegas step up. In just his second college start, Vegas tied for 11th place with his score of 11-over.

“Julio had a good summer and he has used that momentum to come in and help us this fall, and that has been great,” said Fields. “We needed him to do that.”

The Longhorns leave the Midwest with a Texas-sized chip on their shoulders. They finished with their best team ranking of the season, but would surely like a mulligan for their admittedly poor first round of the tournament. After all, Texas finished only seven shots shy of first-place team Oklahoma State. Fields believes that it’s the tournaments like these that will shape his team into the championship-caliber squad he expects them to become.

“We know we must get significantly better,” he said. “Every player on our team is challenging themselves to do that. The only way to do that is to challenge ourselves with this great schedule with events at great courses. Playing here was a great experience for our guys.”