PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – For most younger siblings being in the shadows of their older brothers is an annoyance and something they fight to get away from, but for Julio Vegas, there is a certain sense of pride in being the younger brother of PGA Tour player, Jhonattan Vegas.
When they were youngsters in Maturin, Venezuela and older brothers Carlos and Jhonattan started playing golf, Julio wanted to pick up a club and start swinging. The trio were introduced to the game by their father, who was a caddy at a local golf course near their home.
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When Jhonattan decided to play golf at the University of Texas, Julio knew exactly where he was going to go to school.
“Definitely I came here because of my brother,” Vegas said. “I wanted to follow his path. He is a great guy and we talk all the time. He went through it and can tell me about things I might not know about.”
Vegas knew no English and wasn’t sure he would be comfortable coming to the United States. His older brother assured him it would be fine. Julio lived with the same family that Jhonattan did and studied the language.
“We talked about it and what it would be like to be here,” Vegas said. “I think just having him around and be able to learn from him was good.”
Vegas also got help from his teammates, including senior, Dylan Frittelli and freshman, Jordan Spieth.
“I don’t have any complaints,” Vegas said. “Having Jordan and Dylan helping me with my game was great. It helped my game a lot. I got a lot of top-10s and I won for the first time.”
Vegas is representing not only Texas, but his home country of Venezuela as well.
“It is important to me to do well,” Vegas said. “I want to do like my brother did while he was here.”
Jhonattan Vegas has become an ambassador for golf in his country, where the sport wasn’t very popular. Julio is hoping to continue to make the sport more known in Venezuela.
“He [is] a great, great guy, not just because he is a my brother, he is just a great guy and people like him,” Vegas said. “I wanted to make him proud of me.
So far he has exceeded his expectations. While Jhonattan never won a golf tournament while at Texas, Julio tied for first earlier this year at the Morris Williams Intercollegiate.
Julio Vegas can also add member of a national championship team as something Jhonattan doesn’t have. He has other goals at Texas his brother didn’t achieve, one of them being an All-American. Vegas was named to the All-Conference team this year.
“All-American was on my mind,” Vegas said. “I really wanted that. I’ve been working with my swing coach and I knew my game was getting better. I just stayed patient.”
What has served Vegas well is his size. He is a sturdy 6-feet tall, with broad shoulders and a football player’s build.
Jhonattan had a similar build, though three inches taller, but the younger Vegas gets confused for his brother occasionally. Texas football Coach Mack Brown tried to solicit Jhonattan to play football and once mistook Julio for his older brother.
“He asked me if I would play football,” Vegas said. “My brother is a big guy.
“I don’t want to play football. It’s a tough sport. I’m going to stick with golf.”