Sahith Theegala hasn’t won on the PGA Tour, but he might not get a better chance than this.
The 25-year-old Theegala, from Chino Hills and Pepperdine, carded a bogey-free 67 and will take a two-stroke lead over Justin Thomas, S.H. Kim of South Korea and Cam Davis of Australia into the final round of the Fortinet Championship on the North Course at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa.
This is the first event of the inaugural PGA Tour Fall Series, where many players are competing to keep their status for next season.
“It was really fun out there, especially with all my family and friends cheering for me,” said Theegala, who did win the QBE Challenge, an unofficial team event with Tom Hoge. “I did hit a lot of tee shots off-line, but I hit some great recovery shots and made a lot of putts today. I’ve been putting really well for a while now.
“It’s been a goal of mine to keep getting better, and I believe I am doing that, to put myself in contention, especially on the back nine on Sunday and that’s my goal for tomorrow, and I just hope I can get it done with everybody cheering for me.
“I missed the Tour Championship basically by one shot, but that has given me motivation, so I hope that I can get my first victory tomorrow in my home state.”
Theegala, who wound up 31st in the FedEx Cup standings last season to miss the Tour Championship by one spot, birdied four of his last seven holes to record a 54-hole score of 17-under-par 199.
Thomas, the former world No. 1 who is down to No. 24, made a tap-in eagle on No. 15 and added five birdies in a bogey-free 65 and is tied for second with Davis, who birdied the last four holes in another bogey-free 65, and Kim, who was tied for the 36-hole lead with Theegala and made three late birdies to salvage a 69.
“It’s just great to be in contention again,” said Thomas, who has won 15 times on the PGA Tour, but not since his second PGA Championship victory in 2022. “I didn’t play all that well, but it was good enough to get myself into contention.
“Even though I didn’t hit the ball all well, it was nice to shoot seven-under-par and put myself in a good spot. It will be great to be in contention to win on Sunday, which I haven’t been for a while, and that’s more important than anything else.”
Matt Kuchar, the 2012 Players champion who has won nine times on the PGA Tour but not since the 2019 Sony Open in Hawaii, birdied four of the last eight holes in a bogey-free 66 and is three shots behind in a tie for fifth with rookie Eric Cole of Palm Springs, who birdied three straight holes on the back nine in a 68.
Callum Tarren of England posted a bogey-free 67 and is five down in solo seventh, while Peter Malnati had five birdies on the back nine in a 66 and is six strokes behind in a tie for eighth with Martin Trainer of France and USC, who birdied three holes on each nine in a 68, and Robby Shelton, who shot a bogey-free 68.
Seventh-ranked Max Homa of Valencia and Cal, the two-time defending Fortinet champion, made five birdies on the front nine but struggled coming home to shoot 70 and is tied for 11th.
For complete results and final-round tee times, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard