Sahith Theegala is relishing playing against his idols


Playing against the guys you grew up admiring and cheering for can be a little unnerving.

But that’s where Sahith Theegala finds himself now.

Theegala gets a bit of a reprieve this week as he plays in his sixth PGA Tour event (on a sponsor exemption) — the Barracuda Championship at Old Greenwood golf course near Truckee.

Most of the world’s top golfers are at the WGC in Memphis.

Theegala had success as a college golfer at Pepperdine, earning All-America status three times.

Earlier this year he was named the Division I Nicklaus Award winner, adding to the Ben Hogan and Haskins awards he won in the spring.

Pepperdine was ranked No. 1 in the country before the coronavirus shutdown.

Theegala, 23, is enjoying his time so far on the Tour, but admits he can golf better.

“I haven’t put out my best stuff yet for sure, but it’s definitely a learning curve,” he said. “All these guys are so good out here. You’re essentially just competing against a bunch of the one, two, three guys from college in the previous years.”

He said being around the top golfers got to him a bit over his first few weeks.

“A little bit nervous, but really excited and didn’t really play my game,” he said. “That was probably the biggest transition, but now I definitely feel like I’m kind of finding my groove a little bit.”

He said playing with golfers like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka was tough, at first, and he was a little star-struck.

“It’s like, wow, I grew up watching these guys and they’ve been dominating. All of a sudden I’m competing against them,” Theegala said. “It was definitely a little tough to be like, hey, I’ve got to come out and beat these guys, not just I’m coming out here to watch.”

He is coming around to accept he belongs in the field with them now and said winning is always the goal.

He likes the way Old Greenwood fits his game.

“I’m trying to keep as low of expectations as possible. If I just come out here and have a good time and play my game, things will fall into place. But I’m excited,” Theegala said.

At first, he was playing so many practice rounds that he wore himself out and he was tired by the Fridays of the first tournaments he played.

The Barracuda moving to Truckee gives California seven PGA Tour stops. Theegala said playing in his home state has been a welcome change. He drove eight hours Truckee earlier this week.

Early favorite: Scott Stallings tops the field by ranking seventh on the PGA Tour this season with a first-round scoring average of 69.00 through 17 events.

He finished sixth in a much stronger field at the Travelers Championship after opening with a 64 and shot a third-round 64. He has shot 65 or better in four of 20 rounds since the restart.

The field: There are 62 PGA Tour winners in the Barracuda field, accounting for 127 wins.

Players in the top 30 of the FedExCup points standings include: Lanto Griffin (10) and Sebastian Munoz (14).

Bill Haas, the 2011 FedExCup champion, is also in the field.

Players who have won majors include Martin Kaymer (2), and Shaun Micheel (1).

Kaymer also won The Players tournament (2014), as did Si Woo Kim (2017).

The Barracuda Championship is at Old Greenwood golf course this week.
More notables: Two players who have won this season are in the field — Sebastian Munoz (Sanderson Farms) and Lanto Griffin (Houston Open).



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