Sahith Theegala earned his first PGA Tour title on Sunday by claiming a two-shot victory at the Fortinet Championship in Napa, Calif.
The 25-year-old California native made a splash early in his pro career and qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs earlier this season, but a victory was missing from his resume until Sunday, when he shot a final-round, 4-under 68 at Silverado Resort’s North Course.
Theegala finished at 21-under 267 to beat out runner-up S.H. Kim of South Korea, who posted a final-round 68.
“It doesn’t feel real,” Theegala said on the Golf Channel broadcast. “It’s probably not going to set in for a while.”
After starting the day with a two-stroke lead, Theegala carded four birdies and one bogey on the front nine on Sunday. His second bogey came at the par-4 10th hole, but he closed out the win with an 11-foot birdie putt at No. 12, a 20-foot birdie putt at No. 14 and a 7-foot birdie at No. 16.
That was plenty of cushion for Theegala to absorb a bogey at the final hole, even after Kim finished with four birdies on the back nine.
“Yeah, it’s been a long week for me,” Kim said. “I tried to mentally stay focused throughout the week. I’m happy with how things ended and look forward to the future.”
Kim moved from 83rd to 57th in the standings of the inaugural “FedEx Cup Fall” series, which for the first time is using the seven events after the Tour Championship to finalize eligibility for next season. The top 125 at the end of the fall will retain their full PGA Tour cards. Being in the top 60 — like Kim is now — will qualify players into two signature events next winter, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Genesis Invitational.
Theegala was locked in after making the final 50 during the playoffs, but he said earlier this week he is playing because he loves the tour’s California events. Now he can say his first victory on tour came in his home state.
“That was some of the most fun I’ve ever had in my life,” Theegala said. “I had so many family and friends cheering me on, and just the support I have is mind-blowing. I go to bed at night these last few days, I’m like, ‘I can’t believe how many people are cheering for me and rooting for me.'”
Cam Davis of Australia (final-round 70) finished third at 17 under. Eric Cole (70) was fourth at 16 under and Justin Thomas (72) placed fifth at 15 under, his highest finish since February.
–Field Level Media