Following a stellar rookie season on the PGA Tour, many thought the 2022-23 season would be a breakout one for Sahith Theegala.
The 25-year-old California native had a good year, though it wasn’t as good as his first on Tour. He tied for second at the RSM Classic last November and had seven top-10 finishes, but he finished 31st in the FedEx Cup standings and missed out on the Tour Championship.
Earlier this week, Theegala said he was eager to play again, and it’s easy to see why.
Theegala finally got over the hump, capturing his first PGA Tour victory Sunday at the 2023 Fortinet Championship in Napa, California. Theegala finished at 21-under 267 at Silverado Resort’s North Course, and the wait for one of the best young stars in the game to get his first victory is over.
“It doesn’t feel real. It’s probably not going to set in for while,” Theegala said. “But man, that was a lot of good golf, and that was some of the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. 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 and I’m like, I can’t believe how many people are cheering for me and rooting for me.
“But man, this feeling is incredible. And I couldn’t have done it without my whole team and everyone out here. This is such a team effort, and for me to just put it together like this, it means the world, it means the world to me.”
In the final round, Theegala shot 4-under 68, including three birdies in his first five holes to take control. He led by two shots heading into a final round, and the winning margin was two after a closing bogey, but it didn’t matter.
Justin Thomas, who was in the group at T-2 before the final round, shot even-par 72 on Sunday and finished at 15 under and solo fifth. Max Homa, a fellow United States Ryder Cup team member with Thomas and the Fortinet Championship’s two-time defending victor, finished at 13 under and T-7.
Rookie S.H. Kim finished solo second at 19 under.
Although it doesn’t count as an official PGA Tour victory, Theegala won the QBE Shootout last December with partner Tom Hoge. However, there’s no doubt about his victory Sunday in wine country.
After he finished his round Sunday, Theegala’s family was there to celebrate. They walked along every hole in the final round and were boisterous in their support.
“They meant everything,” Theegala said. “Just like the way I am, I kind of keep my head down and keep going and stay focused, but I secretly just loving the cheering. It gets me fired up. And just knowing that I have that support no matter the good golf or the bad golf, they just have my back and I hope they know that I have their back, too.
“I can’t even express how I feel. It’s a team win. It’s not just a win for me, it’s a win for the whole family and everyone.”