Scottsdale, Arizona (AFP) – Sam Ryder brought down the house with a A hole-in-one on a 16-hole course Saturday At the WM Phoenix Open, newcomer Sahith Theegala topped the crowded leaderboard like the track.
Wedge Rider fell on the 124-yard hole right and short, bounced a few times, turned left and fell inside. Feisty fans in the 17,000-seat slot threw drinks into the air in celebration and the lawn was littered with bottles, cans and cups, resulting in a delay of about 15 minutes.
“I don’t know how I can dig a hole over these. I don’t think there is any hole with the electricity that this has,” said Ryder, eight strokes behind Thigala after a 71 tie.
Ryder’s first round was his 10th 16th since the championship moved to the track in 1997 and the first since Francesco Molinari in the third round in 2015. Tiger Woods did it in 1997 before the bleachers knocked the hole.
“It just ended up being a perfect 54-degree wedge,” Ryder said. “Everything always plays out a little bit shorter, adrenaline or whatever.”
With about 200,000 fans packing company and fast TPC Scottsdale on another sunny 80-degree day in the Valley of the Sun, Theegala beat out a double bogey in par-4 seconds to score 69.
What a day, said Thigala. “There’s a lot of ups and downs. I mean, it was unruly.”
In his first appearance in the event on the sponsor’s exemption, Theegala had a total of 14 under 199 to lead by one stroke over defending champion Brooks Koepka. FedEx Cup champions Patrick Cantlie, Xander Shaveli, Scotty Scheffler, and Taylor Gotsch were another hit.
“I’m really exhausted now,” Tegala said. “I probably hit it in the desert five times. I stomped my ball twice, caught my ball twice. Very drained for sure.”
Theegala is trying to become the first player to win a sponsor’s exemption since Martin Laird at the 2020 Shriners Open. The 24-year-old American Indian grew up in Chino Hills, California, and starred in Pepperdine. In 2020, he won the College Player of the Year awards.
He’s playing for the fifth week in a row, bringing his parents and some of his last four family members to California and Arizona.
It was hard to see them,” Tegala said. “Just submerged in the sea of people.”
After hitting a bunker lip on his way to double stealth at No. 2, Thigala swarmed with sparrows on No. 6, 7 and 8. He fired a shot at the 11th, shot the No. 5 jumper 13 and drilled the 15 shooter onto the par-4 17.
“Obviously, a really bad start and proud of the way I fought there,” Tegala said. “But I’m still trying to make sense of it all. There’s a lot going on there too. Which is good. I really enjoyed the fans there.”
Koepka had 68. The four-time main champ is the last player to win the event on his debut, having done so in 2015.
“I’m playing hard, so just go out and play well tomorrow and see what happens,” Koepka said. “I just want to keep putting it like I did. I feel confident. I love where my game is, we’ll see.”
Schaeffler flirted with 59 seconds before settling on 62. In pursuit of his first-round victory, he started the day with nine strokes behind Thigala.
“I think it was a fun event,” Scheffler said. “I think it would be a bit draining if it were every week, but one week a year is very special.”
Schaeffler played his first nine in the seventh of the twenty-seven, and added two planes in his second nine. He was the last player on the tour to shoot 59, and he did so at the Northern Trust 2020. Jim Furyk is the only player to break 60 twice on the PGA Tour, shooting 58 and 59.
Fourth seed Cantlay, also his first start in the event, had a 68. Ghosh broke his last three holes for 67, making him 40 feet at 18.
Shaveli, commanding at 14 under at the turn, shot a 69. He made a double bogey after driving into the water on an 11 par-4.
Hideki Matsuyama (66) was under 11 with Tom Hogg (67), Max Homa (68), Alex Noreen (67) and Adam Hadwin (68).
Matsuyama, the Masters champion who won in Scottsdale in 2016 and 2017, made his first start since winning the Sony Open a month ago in Hawaii. At Pebble Beach last week, Hoge won his first PGA Tour title.
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