Sahith Theegala didn’t want to play this week’s Fortinet Championship.
He needed to play.
Theegala doesn’t simply have his PGA Tour card locked up for subsequent season; he’ll play all of the signature occasions as nicely. However when requested why he was considered one of simply 5 top-50 FedExCup finishers within the area for the fall-series opener at Silverado Resort in Napa, California – and, at No. 31 in factors, the highest-ranked participant other than No. 9 Max Homa – Theegala rightfully popped again.
“I don’t suppose that’s an amazing query,” Theegala mentioned, earlier than politely explaining his reasoning.
Positive, lots of the Tour’s stars who completed safely inside that choose 50-man group will take the complete fall off. Nevertheless, Theegala isn’t most guys. The SoCal native relishes occasions on the West Coast, and that poa annua grass. Certainly one of his greatest buddies lives close by, too. However most of all, Theegala loves this match, which prolonged him a sponsor invitation shortly after he turned skilled with no standing on any tour and in the course of the pandemic (OK, so he additionally was the reigning faculty participant of the yr who received 4 occasions at Pepperdine).
Theegala loves it much more after Sunday.
The 25-year-old Theegala picked up his first profession PGA Tour victory by successful the Fortinet in convincing style, turning a two-shot lead initially of the spherical into a cushty two-shot win at 21 beneath.
“It doesn’t really feel actual,” Theegala mentioned simply moments after tapping in his closing putt, the 62nd make in 64 makes an attempt inside 10 ft for the week. “It’s most likely not going to set in for some time. However man, that was quite a lot of good golf, and that was among the most enjoyable I’ve ever had in my life.”
Theegala’s closing bogey on the par-5 18th gap and three late birdies by runner-up S.H. Kim made a back-nine runaway seem nearer than it was, although one solely needed to take heed to the cheers from the practically three dozen members of Workforce Theegala with just a few holes to play to comprehend this factor was over nicely earlier than the ultimate putt.
The assist group is led by Theegala’s dad and mom, dad Murli and mother Karuna, and fluctuates from match to match. With Theegala grabbing maintain of the 54-hole lead, it swelled to an estimated 35 relations and pals as eight extra drove up from Southern California on Saturday evening.
“The PGA Tour was good,” Murli Theegala mentioned. “I requested for additional tickets, and so they simply dumped so many onto the Ticketmaster, and we mentioned, ‘Come on all, guys. We want an enormous assist right here.’”
Sahith Theegala felt it.
After he birdied 4 of his first seven holes to take command.
And positively after draining a 20-footer for birdie at No. 14, considered one of his three birdies coming in.
At the same time as he coasted into the clubhouse by hacking a pair photographs out of the tough on the ultimate gap to card 4-under 68, the Theegala chants – Thee-ga-la! Thee-ga-la! Thee-ga-la! – seemingly by no means stopped.
“I am going to mattress at evening these previous few days and I’m like, I can’t imagine how many individuals are cheering for me and rooting for me,” Sahith mentioned. “… They meant every little thing. Identical to the way in which I’m, I sort of maintain my head down and maintain going and keep targeted, however I secretly simply loving the cheering. It will get me fired up. And simply figuring out that I’ve that assist regardless of the great golf or the dangerous golf, they simply have my again, and I hope they know that I’ve their again, too.”
When Theegala suffered a heartbreaking defeat as a rookie finally yr’s WM Phoenix Open, Murli and Karuna have been there to consolation their son after he broke down in tears throughout his post-round interview.
“It’s OK,” Murli instructed his son because the three of them embraced, the message picked up by a Netflix mic. “You’ll get your day quickly.”
Theegala needed to endure a pair extra close-calls – runners-up finally yr’s Vacationers Championship and RSM Traditional. He then posted a handful of top-10s early this yr, together with a ninth on the Masters, to financial institution some FedExCup factors and rise to a career-best No. 32 within the Official World Golf Rating, however following a T-5 on the RBC Heritage, Theegala slumped laborious, not cracking the top-10 once more till Sunday and falling again to No. 37 on the planet initially of the week.
After falling one shot shy of advancing to East Lake for a second straight yr on the BMW Championship, Theegala put away his golf equipment for per week and a half. He then flew house from Houston to his dad and mom’ house in Chino Hills final week to have a good time Murli’s birthday earlier than heading as much as Napa, the place he’d observe a bit greater than traditional as he was debuting a brand new set of Ping irons after about seven years utilizing a combo of older fashions.
“I often don’t swap,” Theegala mentioned on Friday, “however they really feel actually good, and it’s good to have some validation proper off the bat.”
Additional proof got here Sunday night as Theegala, for the primary time, hoisted a PGA Tour trophy – one of many first he ever performed for – into the air, his family members nonetheless cheering.
That is why he performed this week.