Indian American amateur golfer Sahith Theegala of Chino Hills, Calif., emerged from a single-hole playoff to defeat Min Woo Lee of Australia and claim the 23rd Sahalee Players Championship July 7 in Sammamish, Wash.
After Theegala and Lee were even at 3-under par through 72 holes, the two played the par-5 18th hole to determine the winner in a playoff. The Australian got onto the green after three shots, but two-putted for par, while the Indian American got onto the green on his second shot and managed to drop in a 5-foot birdie putt for the win.
The eventual winner began the day with a five-shot lead, though strong wind gusts made play difficult for the leader, whose advantage was nullified by the 11th hole when Lee birdied the par-5 to knot the score.
Theegala regrouped after losing his lead and parred the 12th, 14th, 15th, 17th and 18th holes, and bogeyed the 13th and 16thholes before heading into the playoffs.
“I was hitting the ball in some of the worst places possible," Theegala said in a Sahalee Players Championship news release. "I was all over the place, and saving pars from places I thought no way was going to happen."
The final day of the three-day, four-round tournament was Theegala’s worst, shooting a 78. His previous three rounds of 71, 67 and 69 kept him in the running, and set up the dramatic playoff win.
A junior at Pepperdine, Theegala finished his sophomore year as WCC Co-Player of the Year and was chosen as a semifinalist for the Jack Nicklaus Award. He qualified for this year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills, and later this month will compete in the 51st Pacific Coast Amateur Championship in University Place, Wash.