WM Phoenix Open 2022 standings: Brooks Koepka edges Sahith Theegala by one after round three at TPC Scottsdale
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Sam Ryder knocked the house down with a hole-in-one on the stadium’s 16th hole Saturday at the WM Phoenix Open, where newcomer Sahith Theegala topped a leaderboard as crowded as the course.
Ryder’s corner shot on the 124-yard hole landed just right and short, bounced a few times, spun left and fell. cans and cups, resulting in a delay of approximately 15 minutes.
“I don’t know how I could pick a hole over this one,” said Ryder, eight strokes behind Theegala after an even par 71. “I don’t think there’s a hole that has the electricity that this one has.”
Ryder’s first tour ace was the 10th at No. 16 since the tournament moved to the course in 1997 and the first since Francesco Molinari in the third round in 2015. Tiger Woods did it in 1997 before the stands sound the hole.
“It ended up being a perfect 54 degree corner,” Ryder said. “Everything always plays a little shorter in there, adrenaline or whatever.”
With around 200,000 fans packing hard and fast TPC Scottsdale on another 80-degree sunny day in the Valley of the Sun, Theegala overcame a double bogey at par 4 seconds to shoot a 69.
“What a day,” Theegala said. “So many ups and downs. I mean, it was wild.”
Debuting in the event on a sponsor exemption, Theegala had a total of 14 under 199 for a one shot lead over defending champion Brooks Koepka. FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler and Talor Gooch were another blow back.
“I’m really exhausted right now,” Theegala said. “Probably, I hit it five times in the desert. I got the ball stepped on twice, I got my ball back twice. Very exhausting, that’s for sure.”
Theegala is bidding to become the first player to win with a sponsor exemption since Martin Laird at the 2020 Shriners Children’s Open. The 24-year-old Indian-American grew up in Chino Hills, Calif., and played at Pepperdine. In 2020, he won all three Major College Player of the Year awards.
He is playing for the fifth week in a row, with his parents and some family members participating in the last four games in California and Arizona.
“It was hard to see them,” Theegala said. “Just engulfed in the sea of people.”
After hitting the lip of a fairway bunker en route to the double bogey on the No. 2, Theegala rallied with birdies on the No. 6, 7 and 8. He dropped a shot on the 11, birdied the par-5 13 and made a 15-footer on the par-4 17th.
“Obviously a really bad start and proud of how I fought there,” Theegala said. “But I always try to understand everything. There’s so much going on there too. Which is a good thing. I really enjoyed the fans there.”
Koepka had a 68. The four-time major champion is the last player to win the event when it first appeared, in 2015.
“I’m playing solid, so go out and play a good round tomorrow and see what happens,” Koepka said. “I just need to keep saying it the way I did. I feel confident. I like where my game is at, and we’ll see.”
Scheffler flirted with his second 59 before settling for a 62. Seeking his first victory on the tour, he started the day nine strokes behind Theegala.
“I think it’s a fun event,” Scheffler said. “I think it would be a bit exhausting if it was like this every week, but one week a year is pretty special.”
Scheffler played his first nine games under 27 and added two birdies in his second nine. He was the last player on the tour to shoot 59, doing so in the 2020 Northern Trust. Jim Furyk is the only player to beat 60 twice on the PGA Tour, shooting 58 and 59.
Cantlay, ranked fourth, also made his first start in the event, hitting a 68. Gooch birdied the final three holes for a 67, going 40-for-18.
Schauele, the 14-under leader on the turn, shot 69. He double-bogeyed after falling in the water on the par-4 11th.
Hideki Matsuyama (66) was 11 under with Tom Hoge (67), Max Homa (68), Alex Noren (67) and Adam Hadwin (68).
Matsuyama, the Masters champion who won in Scottsdale in 2016 and 2017, is making his first start since winning the Sony Open a month ago in Hawaii. Hoge won at Pebble Beach last week for his first PGA Tour title.
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