Sahith Theegala (SCGA photo)
For anyone wondering about the state of Sahith Theegala’s game, look no further than the top of the SCGA Amateur leaderboard. Before last month, Theegala had been sidelined from competition with a wrist injury since last summer’s U.S. Amateur. This week, he won the premier SCGA amateur title.
Theegala, who will begin his senior season at Pepperdine in the fall after redshirting last year, ran away from a stacked field of the region’s best at Lakeside G&CC in Burbank to earn his first SCGA title with a final-round, blemish-free 5-under 65.
“It feels unbelievable,” Theegala said. “I've played this event for quite a while now, so to have my name etched on that trophy is pretty special. It really hasn't even set in yet.”
In what was one of the most anticipated final groups in recent memory, Theegala headed into the final day with a one-shot lead over Lakeside GC member and course record holder Trip Morris, with USC’s Charlie Reiter lurking close behind.
But Theegala mashed the gas pedal early on Sunday and never let up. He had a front-nine 3-under 32, which included superb ball-striking and flawless lag putting on the speedy Lakeside green surfaces.
Theegala had a tap-in birdie on No. 2 after reaching the par 5 in two and backed that up with an improbable birdie on No. 4 after spraying a drive right into the trees. His remarkable recovery shot left him a few yards off the green. Then on the 225-yard par-3 ninth, Theegala lasered an iron to the tucked flagstick before rolling in a 25-footer for another birdie. Morris fell back and found himself 1-over at the turn, with disappointing bogeys on No. 3 and No. 9 while Reiter could never jumpstart his round, making the turn at even par.
The crowds for the final group were enormous all day. With the entire Theegala crew out supporting their guy and Lakeside members out in droves following the hometown kid, it made for a surreal scene all afternoon.
“It was unbelievable. I haven't played many tournaments in a long time, so it was great having such a crowd of family and loved ones,” said Theegala. “It meant the world that they all came out to watch and support me.”
Theegala didn’t falter at all on the back-nine, continuing to fire at flagsticks and roll in putts with a silky smooth stroke. He birdied the short par-4 12th, before stuffing one to eight feet on No. 16 to seal the deal. His blistering final round helped distanced himself to eight strokes ahead of second place.
Theegala came into the tournament ranked No. 71 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking but had been as high as No. 24 before his wrist injury. Already this summer, Theegala has finished 12th at the Sunnehanna Amateur and runner-up (to his Pepperdine teammate Joe Highsmith, by the way) at the Sahalee Players.
Further down the leaderboard, USC’s Sam Kim used a strong weekend of 64-68 to climb into third place. Reigning U.S. Amateur runner-up and UCLA Bruin Devon Bling went 69-66-68 after a disappointing opening-round 72 to snag fourth place. Reiter finished T-5 with incoming Pepperdine freshman Caden Fioroni at 3-under.
ABOUT THE SCGA Amateur
This is the longest standing championship
by the SCGA. Started in 1900, this event
best amateur player of the Association. Since
inaugural event, the SCGA Amateur has
illustrious history of great champions, including
Woods and Al Geiberger to more recent stars
including Beau Hossler and Patrick Cantlay. The
event is open to members with a Handicap
5.4 and below. Competitors undergo 18 holes
qualifying play in order to reach the final field
players. In the Championship, players compete
72 holes of stroke play with the top 42 and ties
advancing after the first 36 holes. The
site is traditionally held at the home club of the
current SCGA President.
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