Pepperdine's Sahith Theegala wins spring opener by 16 shots as Waves dominate

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Pepperdine's Sahith Theegala wins spring opener by 16 shots as Waves dominate

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Pepperdine's Sahith Theegala wins spring opener by 16 shots as Waves dominate

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There’s starting the spring fast, and then there’s this.

Pepperdine opened its spring portion of the 2017-18 college season by hosting the Waves Challenge and promptly romping to the title by a school-record 37 shots.

Unsurprisingly, the Waves boasted the tournament’s medalist with Sahith Theegala taking the honors. But his margin was an astounding one, as Theegala destroyed the field … by 16 shots.

Seriously.

The junior fired a closing 5-under 67 on Tuesday at Saticoy Country Club in Somis, Calif., to finish at 11 under and close out a wire-to-wire win. Theegala started the week out hot with a 2-under 70 that boosted him into a three-shot lead through 18 holes. His margin grew a great deal when he posted a second-round 68.

At that point, Theegala entered the final round with an 11-shot lead.

He left no doubt Tuesday, birdieing his opening hole in the final round. Following a bogey at No. 4, Theegala eagled the par-5 sixth and birdied the par-5 eighth to go out in 3-under 33. A smooth back nine with two birdies (at Nos. 14 and 16) and no bogeys got him home in 67 and to his school-record 16-shot margin.

Theegala had just three bogeys over 54 holes, going bogey-free in his second round. Pepperdine’s Joshua McCarthy was the closest pursuer, as the sophomore closed in 3-under 69 to jump five spots to second place at 5 over.

Pepperdine, which sat at No. 49 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings entering the event, finished with a 5-under 283 in closing out a 13-over total. UC Santa Barbara came in second at 50 over.

This is the Waves’ first win this season and first since the Southwestern Invitational last February.

Theegala earned his second career college win with this blowout, and it adds to his lore.

The junior first made a name for himself by draining a series of extraordinary putts at the 2016 U.S. Amateur to take down Sam Burns in the Round of 32 and Joaquin Niemann in the Round of 16. (Theegala would fall in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Curtis Luck.)

He then qualified for the PGA Tour’s Genesis Open last year and turned heads even more by making the cut and posting a T-49 finish. Later that month, Theegala won his first college title at that Southwestern Invitational and helped Pepperdine beat USC at the event.

His 2016-17 college season ended with Theegala being named a WCC Player of the Year and earning All-America honors.

Theegala boasts a unique but fearless style of play, one that at times includes intentional shanks in warming up.

He’s currently ranked 40th by Golfweek in the 2017-18 season and is looking to help Pepperdine build on last season’s campaign that saw the Waves reach the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2011. Pepperdine didn’t make the match-play portion at nationals, but the team did survive the 54-hole stroke-play cut and availed itself well in a 13th-place finish.

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