Another tough finish for Sahith Theegala at Travelers Championship
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Double-bogeyed 18th hole to lose to Xander Schauffele by two
Written by Cameron Morfit @CMorfitPGATOUR
Sahith Theegala cards a double bogey on the 72nd hole at Travelers
CROMWELL, Conn. – Sahith Theegala seemed to have thought of everything.
In the hunt for his first PGA TOUR title at the Travelers Championship, having birdied the short par-4 15th hole to pull into a tie for the lead, he sidled up to the cooler on the 16th tee, grabbed a bottled water, and handed it over the rope to his thirsty brother, Sahan.
Theegala accounted for his bad lie on 17, where his ball had trickled into a divot in the fairway, hitting his approach to just inside 11 feet and converting the birdie to take the lead.
Alas, he ran out of good decision-making and/or execution just one hole short. He hit his drive on 18 into the one place he couldn’t hit it, up against the front lip of the left fairway bunker, then tried a miracle shot that backfired, moving the ball only a few inches.
By the time he finally escaped the sand with his third, pitched up with his fourth, and watched his fifth shot lip out, he had made a double-bogey 6 to relinquish the lead.
Third-round leader Xander Schauffele, playing behind him, birdied the hole for a 68 and a two-shot win over Theegala (67) and J.T. Poston (64).
“Never in a million years did I think I would allow myself to blade it,” Theegala said of the first bunker shot that didn’t get out of the sand. “All I had to do was chunk it. We even said, like, this is a 50/50 ball in terms of I got to try and just basically hit it just a hair behind it.
“Somehow my body just, I just straight bladed it,” he continued. “I had room there. I don't know how it looked, but I had room there. Just didn't think I would let myself blade it. But I guess the moment was – and then from there it's, like, got to try and make 5 now. Had a little more room. And I did the same thought process. I nearly bladed it again.”
Once he’d escaped the sand, he said, he hit what he deemed a “pretty good” wedge shot to at least give himself a chance at bogey. That it lipped out was the final insult.
“Hit a perfect putt,” he said. “Somehow it just broke left at the end and lipped out there.”
Theegala, 24, was in tears after the WM Phoenix Open in February, when his tee shot at the drivable 17 hole took a hard kick left and trickled into the water, leading to a bogey. He wound up just a shot out of the Scottie Scheffler/Patrick Cantlay playoff, but made plenty of new fans.
Since then, he’s been mostly under the radar. After Phoenix, he missed the cut in two of his next three starts, including THE PLAYERS Championship. When he went back to making cuts, he didn’t qualify for the first three majors. Others became the favorites for Rookie of the Year.
Theegala resembled the player who contended in Phoenix with a T5 at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday, in what he called major-like conditions at Muirfield Village.
He had his A game for much of the Travelers, where his brother, Sahan, and cousin, Pavin, were following him shot for shot. Sahan goes to Seton Hall, and they drove here Friday.
The T2 finish is Theegala’s best on TOUR.
“Yeah, I played so much good golf this week,” he said. “A lot of my bogeys and doubles were just really like weird mistakes.” He double-bogeyed the eighth hole Thursday after fatting his tee shot into the lake with a 7-iron, and chunked chips – a rarity considering his short game.
“But after that I played really, really well,” he said. “I really didn't make much. I had a lot of looks the last few days and put a ton of good rolls on it, just couldn't get some of the putts that I felt like would have really kept the momentum going to fall. But, yeah, just – I'll have more time to reflect obviously, but there's going to be a ton of positives for sure.”
Cameron Morfit began covering the PGA TOUR with Sports Illustrated in 1997, and after a long stretch at Golf Magazine and golf.com joined PGATOUR.COM as a Staff Writer in 2016. Follow Cameron Morfit on Twitter.