PGA Tour rookie Theegala leads after opening round at Sanderson Farms Championship

By Sports Desk September 30, 2021

PGA Tour rookie Sahith Theegala birdied his first three holes and maintained his impressive form to lead the field after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Classic. 

The 23-year-old Californian looked right at home in Mississippi, turning in a bogey-free round for an eight-under-par 64 at the Country Club of Jackson. 

His countrymen Nick Watney and Harold Varner III were one stroke back after shooting 65, while Roger Sloan, Kurt Kitayama and Kim Si-woo were at 66. 

Fresh off his Ryder Cup disappointment, defending tournament champion Sergio Garcia was six strokes back after shooting 70 in a round that featured two birdies and 16 pars. 

Among other former major winners in the field, Keegan Bradley shot 72 and Zach Johnson 73 in the opening round. 

The story of the day, though, was Theegala, who hit 11 of 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens in regulation.

After earning his 2021-22 PGA Tour card with a strong finish in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals last month, Theegala described his round Thursday as "stress-free". 

"I don't think I've had a lot of time to think about all this stuff, so it just feels like I'm kind of just on a roll and I'm not really thinking about big situations or stuff like that, just feels like I'm playing golf," he said. "So that's helped a little bit,not having expectations, kind of just being on a free roll the whole time."

His inexperience on Tour may bode well for Theegala this week. Six of the last seven Sanderson Farms champions have been first-time winners, with Garcia the exception. 

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