Sahith Theegala broke away from the pack with two sub-70 rounds on Thursday
SAMMAMISH, WA (July 6, 2017) - After playing 36 holes today in temperatures that reached the mid-80s, Sahith Theegala
of Chino Hills, CA was the lone player to break the logjam and claim the top spot on the leaderboard after three rounds at the 23rd Sahalee Players Championship (SPC), being held at Sahalee Country Club.
Theegala began the day three shots behind the leaders, but a morning round of 5-under 67 vaulted him into contention with playing partners John Oda of Honolulu and Sulman Raza of Eugene, OR.
"Yesterday really saved the tournament for me," Theegala said. "I was hitting it all over the place and was able to make some putts to keep me in it, and knowing I was putting well gave me the confidence to just keep going for it and something good was going to happen."
There were several low rounds posted in this morning's second round, but in the afternoon heat, with the course drying out, the scores were not as good in the third round.
After the first nine of the afternoon round, Theegala and Oda were tied for the lead at 5-under total. Then, while others were struggling with the toughened and dried-out course, Theegala caught fire, torching the back nine with four birdies to come home in 32, finishing with a third-round 69.
"The greens got twice as firm this afternoon," he said. "I've not seen greens this firm. They were absolutely perfect, and you had to put yourself in the right spot on the green or you were in trouble."
Theegala is a rising junior at Pepperdine, finishing his sophomore year as WCC Co-Player of the Year and selected as semifinalist for the Jack Nicklaus Award. He qualified for this year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills.
"Yeah it's been a really good summer so far. I'm just enjoying it right now, trying not to think too far ahead. But looking forward to tomorrow."
His 9-under total gives him a 4-shot lead over Oda, and five shots clear of Raza.
Oda had the early lead today, but couldn't hold it in the afternoon round. "I hit the ball well, but couldn't get anything going," he said. "On nine (the par-3), I hit a perfect shot but it bounced over the green. Everything got so firm. That's golf. I'm playing well, hitting it well, so we'll see what tomorrow brings."
Oda, a stalwart on the UNLV men's golf team, had also played in the U.S. Open last month.
Raza just finished his collegiate career at the University of Oregon. He sank the winning putt to win the 2016 NCAA team title for UO, and won the individual title at the 2017 Oregon Duck Invitational.
Theegala, Oda and Raza were paired for both rounds today, and became the marquee group, finishing one, two and three. They will be paired again in the last group for tomorrow's final round.
ABOUT THE Sahalee Players Championship
Inaugurated in 1992, the Sahalee Players
Championship (SPC) at its inception strove to
annually showcase the best amateur golfers in
the Pacific Northwest. As the stature of the
club continued to grow as a result of hosting
the 1998 PGA Championship and 2002 World
Golf Championships-NEC Invitational, the SPC's
founders decided to make the SPC a truly
international amateur event. As such,
invitations to the Sahalee Players
Championship are extended only to the finest
amateur players worldwide. Those asked to
compete will face the same challenge as the
professionals at the PGA Championship and
WGC-NEC Invitational — 72 holes at stroke
play over Sahalee's demanding South and
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