Indian American rookie golfer misses title but finishes at his career-best


Indian American golfer Sahith Theegala could not pull off his maiden PGA Tour triumph but finished a career-best tied-8th at the Sanderson Farms Championship here.

The 23-year-old, California based-rookie had a final round of 1-under 71, even as Sam Burns, 25, earned his second Tour victory in his 87th start following a one-shot win over Nick Watney and Cameron Young.

Cameron Tringale had a pair of eagles from long range with his putter and his wedge and matched his career best on the PGA Tour with a 62. He was 1 shot behind, along with Sam Burns and Denny McCarthy, who each shot 65.

After holding at least, a share of the lead each of the first three rounds this week, rookie Theegala finished at 19-under and tied eighth.

Will Zalatoris, the rookie of the year last season while playing on unlimited sponsor exemptions, was tied for the lead with Theegala and Nick Watney after the second round. Zalatoris didn’t make a birdie over the final 12 holes Saturday, shooting 72 to fall 5 shots behind in a tie for 16th.

Theegala was the consensus NCAA player of the year at Pepperdine in his senior season, which was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. He had to bide his time between the Korn Ferry Tour and limited PGA Tour starts until making it to the big leagues with ease at the Korn Ferry Tour finals.

His brilliant back nine could have been even better. Theegala drove through the green on the reachable 15th and hit a beautiful pitch that somehow spun all around the cup without dropping, sending him to his knees in disbelief.

“I can’t wait to see the replay of that to see what happened because it literally looked like more than a 360,” Theegala said. “I didn’t have the greatest vantage point, but it was literally going right at the stick, and I’m like, ‘OK, that’s in, with good speed.’ I can’t believe that lip-out.”

Although it is his first appearance in a major championship as a professional as he’s only been getting paid to play golf for about a year, splitting his time between the Korn Ferry Tour and the PGA Tour.

He had a highly successful collegiate career at Pepperdine, winning every major award there is to win in 2020, although his final season was unfortunately cut short due to COVID-19. In addition, he is one of just a handful of Indian American golfers to ever compete on the PGA Tour.