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After driver change, Sahith Theegala earns PGA Tour card, Sanderson Farms lead

PGA Tour rookie Sahith Theegala has been on a roll the past few weeks, which has cumulated in a Day 1 lead at the Sanderson Farms Championship. But a change came at one point on the road to success.

The 2020 Haskins Award winner from Pepperdine was fighting for his Tour card a few weeks ago at the Korn Ferry Tour Finals and things didn’t look great when Theegala missed the cut at the Albertsons Boise Open, the first KFT Finals event.

Theegala knew he needed to make a change with only two events left to get on Tour, so he went to Ping and made a driver change.

“I got a new driver after I missed the first cut at Korn Ferry finals, went to Ping, did a little bit of work there and they set me up with a new driver,” Theegala said. “It’s a longer driver. I’m like, if I’m going to hit it off line, I might as well hit it a little bit further and funny enough I’m hitting it way straighter. So that helped a little bit, seeing something new. Still getting comfortable with the driver, only had it a month now. But yeah it’s been really nice to see some of the work paying off and being in more fairways.”

Full-field scores from the Sanderson Farms Championship

Since then, the tide has turned for the 23-year-old Californian, who ranked fourth in the Sanderson field in strokes gained: off the tee upon the conclusion of his opening round. He secured his Tour card after finishing T-4 and sixth in the next two KFT Finals events and then made the cut two weeks ago at the Fortinet Championship, the PGA Tour’s season opener, where he finished T-47. He finished T-14 last year in Napa, his best-ever Tour finish in 14 starts.

“It was nice, like after the first finals events, to kind of lock up the card for the next one,” he said. “Played really well the next week and got a pretty good number, so that was important, too. But, yeah, I don’t think I’ve had a lot of time to think about all this stuff, too, 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. So that’s helped a little bit not having expectations, kind of just being on a free roll the whole time.”

Theegala’s mindset is to always have fun on the course, but last year when he played at the Sanderson Farms and missed the cut by one stroke, he admitted nerves got to him. But he’s always focused on making progress and now one year later in Jackson, Mississippi, it was “stress-free” after tying his personal-best round on Tour.

“Definitely being back here a second time, I don’t feel like my game is that much different,” he said, “I just feel like I’m making slow progress and that’s what me and my coach have been working on, make a little bit of progress, even if it’s just .01 percent, just feel like you’re making progress.”