Sahith Theegala back in contention at Travelers ChampionshipXander Schauffele lead shrinks to one over Patrick Cantlay, three over Theegala
June 25, 2022
By Cameron Morfit , PGATOUR.COM
Sahith Theegala nearly holes out eagle from 153 yards at Travelers
In the third round of the 2022 Travelers Championship, Sahith Theegala makes birdie on the par-4 17th hole.
CROMWELL, Conn. – Sahith Theegala is still a rookie. He’s still figuring out how to optimize his performance, manage travel. He’s learning the courses as fast as he can. Not for nothing has he played 83 rounds this season, most on the PGA TOUR. No better teacher than experience.
And yet he’s realistic. He knows he can’t expect to always be in contention like he was at the WM Phoenix Open in February, when a bad bounce on 17 led to a hard-luck T3 finish.
“Yeah, it's been an interesting situation,” he said after carding a 6-under 64 in the third round of the Travelers Championship, leaving him 14 under and three behind leader Xander Schauffele (67). “Because obviously now I have the confidence in my own game, but I totally – I'm not fooling myself and I'm not going to have this opportunity to win that often yet.
“I'm making great progression to hopefully put myself in more positions like this,” he continued, “but I know I'm not a Rory or Xander quite yet.”
Or a Patrick Cantlay, the FedExCup champion who shot 63, the low round of the day, and is in second, just a shot behind his Zurich Classic of New Orleans teammate Schauffele. They won that tournament in April and have also paired up in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.
“Yeah, if only it was a combined score again this week we would be doing well,” said Cantlay, who made no bogeys Saturday. “It's always nice to be out with him, if he's on my team or if he's not. I'm going to go out there tomorrow and try as hard as I can and let the chips fall where they may.”
Schauffele was fractionally off in the third round and made his first bogey of the tournament after losing his tee shot into the water right of the fairway at the par-5 13th hole.
“I’ve got to make more birdies tomorrow,” he said before heading to the driving range.
Kevin Kisner (66) is just four back and hoping to draw on his knack for rising to the occasion, which has served him so well at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play (2019 champion).
“I just always have been able to have the ability to really sharpen my focus when the pressure goes up,” said Kisner, a four-time TOUR winner, including the 2021 Wyndham Championship.
Theegala, 24, is still too young to know exactly what his tendencies are. He was in tears after the WM Phoenix Open, where his tee shot at the drivable 17 hole took a hard kick left and trickled into the water, leading to a bogey. He stayed in the fight to the end and wound up just a shot out of the Scottie Scheffler/Cantlay playoff, making 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. He made cuts but didn’t qualify for the first three majors. Davis Riley and Cameron Young became the co-favorites for Rookie of the Year.
Still, Theegala keeps plugging along.
“I've just stayed patient the whole year and try to stick to that mantra of getting a little bit better, no matter what that is,” he said after a third round that included a 6-foot eagle putt on 13 and was marred only by a bogey at the last. “Even if the scores don't reflect it, just feeling better about myself and moving forward. But, yeah, I've plead a lot of good golf since then too.”
His best golf since Phoenix, he added, came at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday, where on a firm, tough Muirfield Village he tied for fifth. He was never going to win but liked that his game held up in what he called major-like conditions. He likes that he’s made 19 cuts in 24 starts this season, showing that he can get it around even when he doesn’t have his best.
Now the Pepperdine product will get another chance to raise a PGA TOUR trophy. He’ll play the final round with the veteran Kisner, and Schauffele and Cantlay may be very tough to catch.
This time, Theegala’s parents won’t be following him shot for shot, but his brother, Sahan, and cousin, Pavin, will be. Sahan goes to Seton Hall, and they drove from New Jersey on Friday.
“I'm definitely going to be nervous,” Theegala said. “Definitely going to be excited. It's so nice having prior experience kind of being near the top. So I know exactly what to expect. And every single week I'm out here I feel like I'm getting more and more comfortable.
“I'm really looking forward to tomorrow.”