Youth leader

Who is Sahith Theegala? Meet the WM Phoenix Open leader who still lives with his parents | Golf News and Tour Information

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — “Go Waves!” onlookers shout as Sahith Theegala – a sponsor guest at this week’s WM Phoenix Open – strolls down the fairway at TPC Scottsdale, where he leads by two over 36 holes. Viewers may know PGA Tour rookie alma mater Pepperdine, but can they pronounce his name correctly?

“It’s funny,” he said. “I know who I know because they pronounce my name very clearly and correctly,” Theegala said of the screams he heard throughout his two rounds. “So the pronunciation is SAW-hith Theegala. And a lot of them say Suh-HEETH, which is what I used when I was younger. It’s just easier to shout Suh-HEETH here, so I think that’s what a lot of people do, but it’s SAW-hith.

Having made nine cuts in 11 starts this season, Theegala is no stranger to the top of the charts, despite fans and advertisers botching the pronunciation of his name. At the Sanderson Farms Championship, the Korn Ferry Tour grad was either leading or tied for the lead after each of the first three rounds, and ultimately finished T-8.

This week, the PGA Tour rookie comes out hot again. After his first round was suspended due to darkness after the 16th hole, Theegala completed his final two holes early Friday morning, bogey-bogey. The unfortunate start didn’t deter the 24-year-old, who bounced back with a 7-under 64.

Theegala has been winning tournament golf for a long time, and there’s no reason to think a little familiar momentum can’t help him claim his first Tour win. According to Theegala’s mother, Karuna, “Sahith was three when he picked up a plastic club, and by six he had won the World Junior Championship.” The Orange, Calif., native won the world junior championships twice, at age eight and 10.

The first successes do not stop there. Theegala played on the Diamond Bar High varsity team, which won its league championship in his four years. It was also awarded the All-Sierra League first team every four years.

Theegala’s high school days are probably not far from his mind as he still lives at home with his parents. COVID cut short his senior year at Pepperdine, and it made sense for him to continue sleeping in his own bed throughout the pandemic. He also traveled to Phoenix this week; he joked that he probably put 2,000 miles on his car in recent West Coast swing events.

COVID may have ended Theegala’s senior year prematurely, but that didn’t stop him from winning all three National College Golf Player of the Year awards: the Fred Haskins Award, the Ben Hogan Award and the Jack Nicklaus Prize. He won four times and set a school record with an average of 69.04.

Despite her impressive resume, her career has not always gone smoothly. He took off the entire 2018-19 college season due to a wrist injury, wearing a red shirt to maintain another year of NCAA eligibility.

Theegala has also lived her entire life with scoliosis. Although the condition hasn’t caused her any pain in some time, the seemingly smooth, instinctive rhythm of her swing and her consistent, meticulous work with her chiropractor have helped her avoid setbacks.

The PGA Tour rookie also has a voice support system, especially this week. The loudest screams and most enthusiastic high-fives came from the generous group of family members who followed Theegala through her six-hour day.

“It’s my parents, a couple of my uncles, probably three of my uncles this week, and then my cousin’s parents,” Theegala said. “I think there are eight.”

The Theegala family will no doubt continue to celebrate this week, no matter what happens on Sunday afternoon. As a guest of a sponsor at one of the busiest PGA Tour stops of the year, he has already exceeded expectations with his game.

When asked how excited she was to witness her son’s success, Karuna Theegala struggled to find the words.

“The feeling is…I can’t really describe it,” she said. “I’m so proud of him.”