Indian-American Theegala moves flies into Top-6 with a superb eagle at PLAYERS

Ponte Vedra, US: Sahith Theegala flew into the Top-six with a superb run close to the finish of the third round at The Players Championship. The Indian-American seeking his second PGA Tour win went birdie-eagle-birdie between 15th and the 17th to finish with a 5-under 67 and reach 12-under for 54 holes in the TOUR’s flagship US$25 million tournament.

Theegala, now Tied-sixth, is five behind the leader, Xander Schauffele, whose bogey-free 65 took him to 17-under and one ahead of the 36-hole leader, Wyndham Clark (70). Clark after 65-65 suffered two bogeys, one of them on the 17th, in his round of 70.

Schauffele and Clark were tied going to the island green on the par-3 17th. Clark’s wedge shot came up some 15 yards short of land, but he hit the next one to seven feet and escaped with bogey.

The Open champion, Brian Harman moved into contention with a 64 while playing with Theegala. Harman 72-65 in his first two rounds, is now 15-under and sole third.

Maverick McNealy and Matt Fitzpatrick with 68s are tied for fourth at 13-under, while an injured Scottie Scheffler overcame the neck discomfort to birdie the last three holes for a 68 and get to 12-under in Tied-sixth place.

Tied with Harman was Theegala, whose second shot over 210 yards to get to inside 10 feet at the Par-5 16th was the highlight of the day. He duly grabbed his eagle. He was one-under in his first 14 holes and then picked four shots in three holes for an electric run.

Theegala, who was ninth at the 2023 Masters, and is looking forward to the first Major, was very thrilled about the PLAYERS and how his game has progressed. He said, “Yeah, it’s just awesome to see how much my game has progressed, and I think I use this course as a good basis, because no matter how easy the conditions are out here, this is a hard golf course, and it’s not long or there’s nothing particularly nasty about it. The water is there a lot. But you just have to put your ball in the right places, and you just have to hit good shots. You can’t fake it around here.

“I think this is one of the courses that every type of player has won at, and I think inherently that makes it a great golf course design. You get punished when you hit a bad shot, and you get rewarded when you hit a good shot.

“The first year I played — I was like, this course is so hard. I don’t know how I’m going to compete unless I hit it better off the tee, hit better iron shots, everything. And I put up like a — I was probably 10- or 11-over, missed the cut. Last year, honestly felt like I played well the first two days, and I think I made the cut on the number and shot like 9-over on the weekend, too. I don’t have a good track record after two events, but it does seem like a place where it could get a little volatile, and if you’re playing well, you’re going to play well.”

“On THE PLAYERS Championship, our biggest event, and my best finish is 75th. But it’s cool to see the progression I’ve made since the first year and even since last year. It’s really cool to look back on.”

Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama will be hoping his putter gets hot after ending the third round in tied ninth place and seven shots behind leader, Schauffele.

Among other big names, Rory McIlroy (69) was T-12 and at 9-under, while Viktor Hovland (73-69-71) at 3-under has been off-colour and is T-51.

Matsuyama, a nine-time PGA TOUR winner, ground out a 4-under 68 at The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on Saturday as Schauffele overcame a four-shot deficit with a 65 to seize the 54-hole lead.

Chinese Taipei’s CT Pan battled to a 70 to sit in T-12 on 9-under while 2017 PLAYERS champion Si Woo Kim of Korea shot his week’s best of 68 for 7-under.


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