LA QUINTA, Calif. — Jhonattan Vegas birdied his final five holes Saturday to rejoin Gary Woodland atop the leaderboard at Bob Hope Classic.
The co-leaders after Friday's third round shot 66s to set up a fifth-round showdown between 26-year-olds with little experience in pressure-packed situations. Neither had held a lead on the PGA Tour until this season-opening event.
"This deal is still long from over," Woodland said. "The conditions will be perfect again. The greens are perfect. You're going to have to go low and get that putter hot."
Vegas fell several shots behind Woodland with bogeys on three of his first six holes on the La Quinta course before his flurry of birdies to get to 6 under and match Woodland at 24 under. Woodland was as steady as the postcard-perfect weather on the Palmer Private course with one bogey, five birdies and an eagle at No. 6.
"I saw the leaderboard and saw that Gary was (ahead). So I really tried to push it a little bit, and things went my way," said Vegas, who finished his round with an 18-foot birdie. "I stayed patient, stayed positive throughout the round and was able to hit some really good shots in a row."
Vegas and Woodland will play together today with Scotland's Martin Laird (66), who was two shots back, on the generous Palmer course. The ideal Palm Springs conditions, described by more than one golfer as playing in a dome, are likely to make near-perfection necessary.
"You know right from the first hole you've got to keep firing away," said Laird, who has one tour win. "You can't play defensive golf."
Champions: Russ Cochran shot 7-under 65 to maintain a two-stroke lead over Tom Watson after the second round of the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Kaupulehu-Kona, Hawaii. Cochran had no bogeys and seven birdies for a 17-under 127 that matched Don Pooley's 36-hole record set in 2006. Watson shot 65, including a birdie on his final hole, to reach 15 under, the same two-round total he had last year when he led by two strokes.