Jhonattan Vegas is back on the leaderboard at the event that first put him on the map.
Vegas was an unknown rookie when he captured the 2011 CareerBuilder Challenge in a playoff, entering the winner's circle in just his second start as a Tour member. It served as his lone victory until last year, when he won the RBC Canadian Open en route to a Tour Championship berth.
Back once again in the Coachella Valley, Vegas fired a bogey-free 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West, a score that left him one shot behind Dominic Bozzelli who, like Vegas was in 2011, is early into his rookie season on Tour.
"Having a win here in Palm Springs, every time I get here and see the mountains, a lot of good memories come to my mind," Vegas said. "I feel comfortable. I have a lot of friends that live here, I know the courses failry well. So I really feel comfortable."
Vegas birdied four of his first seven holes, then added three more on his inward half to share the low score of the day on the Nicklaus Course with Patton Kizzire. Others tied one shot behind Bozzelli include Harold Varner III and Hudson Swafford.
Vegas struggled two weeks ago at Kapalua, a course where he later tweeted he "plays his worst," but his run since winning in Canada has been solid. The Venezuelan notched eight top-25 finishes in 13 starts, including an apperance at the Olympics and a T-10 finish at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in his last official Tour start of 2016.
That run largely coincides with the birth of his 10-month-old daughter, Charlene, which Vegas credits as an attitude adjuster both on and off the course.
"I think every time you have a kid, life takes a different route," he said. "You don't only think about yourself, it's about family. How you behave, how you do things. You have to work differently when you have a family to take care of. It's been fun, we're loving it. It's been a joy in my life."