Theegala-Hoge Beat Hoffman-Palmer by One Stroke in 34th QBE Shootout

Sahith Theegala hurt himself on the first hole, but he was a real pain for Ryan Palmer and Charley Hoffman on the last.

Theegala, from Chino Hills and Pepperdine, sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to cap a bogey-free, 10-under-par 62 in the best-ball format that gave him and Tom Hoge a one-stroke victory over Hoffman and Palmer in the 34th QBE Shootout on the Gold Course at Tiburón Golf Club at The Ritz-Carlton Resort in Naples, Fla.

Hoge and Theegala became the first rookie team in 11 years to win QBE Shootout.

“I took a bad swing on the first hole and pulled a muscle in my side,” said the 25-year-old Theegala, who had a strong rookie season but has yet to win on the PGA Tour despite eight top-10 finishes. “Tom carried me around for much of the day, but I got better as we went along and I finally was able to help him keep us in it.

“But Tom just played so well and gave us a chance, and then I finally started to hit some shots and make some putts.  And it was just great to make a putt on the final hole to win it. It just feels really, really good right now.”

Hoge (pictured, left) and Theegala (right) made four birdies on the front nine and added six more coming home in their 62 to go with earlier scores of 60-60 in the scramble and modified alternate-shot formats the first two days, to post a 54-hole score of 34-under-par 182.

Hoffman, of Poway, and Palmer, who held two-stroke leads after each of the first two rounds with scores of 56-62, closed with a 65 on eight birdies and a bogey, and were behind by one stroke when Palmer muffed a pitch shot on No. 17, but chipped the next one in for a birdie to tie for the lead.

However, Hoffman and Palmer both missed birdie putts of about 10 feet on the last hole after Theegala poured in what proved to be the winner.

“It was fun, but I knew I had to carry (Theegala) for a while because he was hurting a bit, and then he started playing better,” said Hoge, who claimed his only PGA Tour victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last February. “And what a great putt he made there on the last hole.

“This is a special way to end a great year, with the taste of victory. It’s very hard to win out here because there are so many great players, but to finish like this feels really good.”

Harris English and Matt Kuchar, who have won the QBE Shootout a record three times, finished two shots back in third after their own bogey-free 62, while Kevin Kisner and Max Homa of Valencia and Cal were two more behind in fourth following a 63.

Nelly Korda and Denny McCarthy posted a bogey-free 64 and wound up seven strokes down in a tie for fifth with Scott Stallings and Trey Mullinax, who eagled the 13th hole in a 62, while Steve Stricker and Cameron Young were one more down in solo seventh after a bogey-free 65.

Brian Harman and Sepp Straka birdied seven of nine holes on the back nine in a bogey-free 62 to wind up nine behind in a tie for eighth with Corey Conners of Canada and K.H. Lee of South Korea, who had a bogey-free 65, while Lexi Thompson and Maverick McNealy of Stanford birdied four of the last five holes to shoot 65 and wind up 10 shots behind in a tie for 10th with Jason Day of Australia and Billy Horschel, who had a bogey-free 70.

Keith Mitchell and J.J. Spaun of Los Angeles and San Diego State eagled the second and 17th holes in a bogey-free 64 to finish 11 shots back in 12th.

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