With no clubs, Jhonattan Vegas helicopters to Open after visa snag

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland -- Jhonattan Vegas shot 76 in the opening round of The Open at Carnoustie, but he has a pretty solid excuse.

He arrived less than 2 hours prior to his tee time.

And he didn't have his own clubs.

The three-time PGA Tour winner had visa issues that started last week when he was supposed to leave for Scotland on July 12. A flurry of activity did not get the issue resolved until Wednesday, meaning he would fly overnight from his home in Houston and arrive in the wee hours of Thursday morning.

His agent arranged for a helicopter to take him from Glasgow to Carnoustie.

"To me, it almost seemed like it was a horror movie happening for the past week,'' said Vegas, 33, who is from Venezuela but has lived in the United States for several years. "Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose, I think you couldn't really do it, where last week, last Thursday, I was supposed to travel here, get here by Friday morning, have a few days to kind of adjust to the time and all that stuff.

"So I look at my visa, and I got really confused with the dates. Obviously, the UK does the day (first, followed by the month), and I've been living in America, I guess, for too long, and I got used to kind of just see the dates flipped, which at the end of the day, it wasn't that big of a deal because I could have gotten a visa in 24 hours.''

Vegas said he applied for the visa but did not get a response by Friday, delaying the visa until Monday. And then he learned he had applied for the wrong visa, delaying the process more. An issue with a delivery service meant he could not leave until Thursday.

And then his trip via Toronto and Glasgow led to his clubs not arriving, meaning his caddie had to cobble together a set with equipment representatives.

"I grabbed the clubs, went out and hit about 20 balls. Luckily, they were going forward, which was nice. Give it a try. I was 5-over," said Vegas, whose result left him tied for 129th, 10 shots off the lead. "I was actually 1-over through eight holes, and I was feeling good because, I mean, the course is really giving me a great feel. Then I decided to start hitting the driver, and bad things started happening with that shot. It didn't really fit. So I got a few bogeys and shot 76.

"But at the end of the day, I gave it a try. I wouldn't do it every single day. It's fun playing here. It's fun playing majors, fun playing The Open. This is my second one, so I wouldn't really miss it for anything.''

His only other appearance in The Open was last year at Royal Birkdale, where he missed the cut.

Last year, Vegas won the RBC Canadian Open but has just one top-10 finish this year.