Ryder wins wild 16th; Theegala retains Phoenix Open lead

Sam Ryder made the rounds with a hole in one on Saturday's 16th hole at the WM Phoenix Open. Sahith Theegala, a newcomer to the tournament, topped a leaderboard that was as crowded as the course.

Ryder wins wild 16th; Theegala retains Phoenix Open lead

Ryder's wedge shot from the 124-yard hole was just right, short, bounced a few times, spun left, and fell in. There was a rowdy crowd of 17,000 fans at the hole, who threw drink in the air to celebrate and littered the turf in cups, bottles and cans. This caused a delay of about 15 minutes.

After a 71-par round, Ryder said that "I don’t know how" he could choose a hole better than this one. "I don’t believe there’s any other hole with the same amount of electricity as this one."

Ryder's 10th tour ace at No. Ryder's first tour ace was the 10th at No. 10, which was the 10th since 1997, when the tournament moved to the venue. This is the first time since Francesco Molinari played in 2015's third round. It was Tiger Woods's first attempt in 1997, before grandstands were allowed to ring the hole.

Ryder stated that the perfect 54-degree wedge was what Ryder had in mind. "Everything always plays slightly shorter in there, adrenaline and whatever it may be."

Theegala shot a 69 with around 200,000 fans supporting her on another sunny, 80-degree Day in the Valley of the Sun.

Theegala stated, "What an amazing day." There were many ups, and downs. It was wild.

Theegala made his event debut with a sponsor exemption. He had a total of 14-under 199 for a one-stroke advantage over Brooks Koepka, the defending champion. Another stroke behind was FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay. Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele and Talor Gooch were the other FedEx Cup winners.

Theegala stated that she was feeling really tired right now. "Probably, I hit the desert five times. I had my ball stepped on twice and my ball picked up twice. It was very draining.

Theegala hopes to be the first player to win with a sponsor exemption since Martin Laird at the 2020 Shriners Children's Open. The Indian-American 24-year-old grew up in Chino Hills and played at Pepperdine. He won the three major college player awards in 2020.

He is playing for the fifth consecutive week with his parents and other family members.

Theegala stated that it was difficult to see them. "I was just engulfed by the sea of people."

Theegala hit the lip of a fairway buner on the way to No. 2, Theegala recovered with birdies on Nos. 6, 7, and 8. He missed a shot on the 11, birdied the par-5 13th, and hit a 15-footer from the par-4 17th.

Theegala stated that it was a very bad start, and she is proud of how she fought back. "But still trying take it all in. There is just so much happening there. This is a great thing. It was great to meet the fans."

Koepka scored a score of 68. The last time Koepka won the event was in 2015, when he was a major champion.

Koepka stated, "I'm playing solid. So just go out and play a good round tomorrow. And see what happens." You just need to keep doing it the same way you did. I feel confident. I'm happy with where my game is at. We'll see.

Scheffler was tempted by his second 59, but settled for a 62. Scheffler was looking for his first victory on the tour and began the day nine strokes behind Theegala.

Scheffler stated that she thinks it's a great event. It would be draining if it were like this every week but it's pretty special if it happens once a year.

Scheffler shot his first nine in 7 under 27 and then added two birdies to his second nine. Scheffler was the last player to reach 59 on the tour, and he did it in 2020 Northern Trust. Jim Furyk, who shot 58 and 59 respectively, is the only player to break 60 in the PGA Tour.

Fourth-ranked Cantlay shot a 68, his first time in the event. Gooch birdied three holes to score a 67. He also made a 40-footer on 18.

Schauffele shot 69 to be the leader at 14 under at turn. After driving into the water on par-4 11, he made a double-bogey.

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 & 2017, will make his first start since winning in Hawaii the Sony Open one month ago. Hoge took home his first PGA Tour title at Pebble Beach last Wednesday.

DIVOTS: Space City Gym, Humble, Texas won $1 million to Ryder's ace in "WM's Million Dollar Shot". Space City Gym was among 20 small-business customers randomly chosen as contest finalist. Each of the 20 finalists was randomly assigned to a trio of players. After a 68, Jon Rahm was ranked 8th. This former Arizona State star lives just a few minutes from the course.



 

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