Five things to know about Sahith Theegala


Sahith Theegala’s season is just going to get better from here

Earlier this month Sahith Theegala, the 24-year-old American of Indian origin, was named one of the three finalists for the 2022 Arnold Palmer Award given to the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. Even though he did not win a tournament, the 6 ft 3 inch-tall Theegala had an amazing season during which he posted six top-10 finishes, including a tie for second at the Travelers Championship and a tie for third at the WM Phoenix Open.

He earned $3.1 million for his troubles and qualified for the season-ending Tour Championship. He started the season ranked 446 th and is now ranked 51, on the verge of breaking into the coveted top-50, which would give him automatic entry into all the four Major tournaments (Masters, USPGA, US Open & British Open) in 2023.

Here are five things you may not know about Theegala:

  1. His first tournament win was a world championship

Theegala first picked up a plastic club when he was three years old. When he was six, he entered the Junior World Championship, his first competitive tournament, and went on to win it. For good measure, he won it two more times at the ages of 8 and 10.

He continued to have success in high school, winning the team league championship all four years. He attended Pepperdine University in California, where he was a three-time NCAA All-American. In his final year, which was cut short by the 2020 Covid pandemic, he swept the collegiate awards for best player, becoming just the fifth player ever to win the Haskins Award, the Ben Hogan Award, and the Jack Nicklaus Award.

Theegala’s parents emigrated from India, and he credits his dad for ensuring that he could have a career in golf. & “We weren’t in the greatest financial situation when I was a kid,” he told the PGA Tour. My dad was the first one from his entire family that moved to the States, and he made it on his own. And it was different because we had no experience with sports at all, so he spearheaded the whole mission to college and professional golf. He put everything that he could into me.

  1. Theegala suffers from scoliosis

Theegala has scoliosis, a condition in which the spine bends sideways, in a ‘S’ shape of a ‘C’ shape. In Theegala’s case his spine bends to the right and the shape is what forces him to make the dramatic downward move of his head on his downswing. In order to manage his condition, he has to regularly visit a chiropractor who specialises in scoliosis for treatment. According to his coach, the pair have realised that he can offset the side bend with the driver to some degree if he swings with a slower tempo.

  1. He deliberately hits shanks on the practice tee

    Theegala finished 27th on the season long FedEx Cup Rankings

Theegala has a reputation for intentionally hitting bad shots on the driving range prior to playing a tournament round. He used to do as a high school player to confuse his opponents and throw them off. He continued the practice in college. In fact, before his first tournament as a college freshman, he was afflicted by nerves during his warm-up and couldn’t hit a good shot, so he decided to purposely hit bad shots instead and get it out of his system. He presented such a strange spectacle that his coach Michael Beard was called down from the clubhouse to check on him. Theegala then proceeded to make an easy two-putt birdie on the opening par-5 to start his college career.


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On one occasion, he zipped a shank past a college senior who was considered to be a very talented golfer, forcing him to look up to see where the ball came from. That player was Jon Rahm. “That was definitely my most vivid memory of him shanking shots on the range for fun,” his best friend Roy Cootes told the PGA Tour.

  1. He loves the Los Angeles Lakers and enjoys playing chess

When Theegala was not yet two years old, his father Muralidhar would put him on his knee to watch LA Lakers games. This was the era of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, and when his father would cheer, Theegala would also get excited and clap. When he got older, he was so attached to the team, he would cry if the Lakers lost. He remains a diehard fan of the team and of Bryant, who tragically died in a plane crash in January 2020.

After learning chess as a child, Theegala didn’t play for years but when he broke his wrist as a senior at Pepperdine and couldn’t play golf, he began playing chess against his teammate Derek Hitchner, one of the team’s freshmen.

According to his caddie, Carl Smith, Theegala could explain all the chess moves from the show The Queen’s Gambit.

  1. His caddie was supposed to be his coach

    Carl Smith and Sahith Theegala at the Travelers Championship

Carl Smith used to be the assistant coach at Pepperdine and was the one who recruited Theegala to join the team after watching him play in high school. “Him and Michael Beard the head coach there were two of the biggest reasons why I wanted to go to Pepperdine,” Theegala told the PGA Tour.

However, Smith left Pepperdine to become a professional caddie before Theegala joined as a freshman. Then when Theegala turned pro and qualified for the Korn Ferry Finals, Smith picked up his bag for the final two events.

“He actually caddied for me in the Korn Ferry Finals, those two final events, and go me to the TOUR, so it was pretty cool how that worked out,” Theegala said.

In conclusion, India Golf Weekly believes Sahith is an extremely talented and interesting personality with an unconventional swing and approach to life. We look forward to his becoming a big star on the PGA Tour and hope Indian fans get to see him in action back in his parents’ home country sometime soon.


Photo – PGA Tour

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