Sahith Theegala simply opened the new year with a Maui wowie.
Theegala, of Chino Hills and Pepperdine, posted a nine-under-par 64 to take a cone stroke lead over five players after the first round of the 71st edition of The Sentry on the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
“I’m really proud of the way I drove the ball,” said Theegala, whose only PGA Tour individual victory came in the 2023 Fortinet Championship. “It was key to my game and I was happy to be playing from the fairway on almost every hole.
“I took a lot from playing here for the first time last year (when he finished 33rd) . The fairways are very slopy and you have to be aware of that. It means the world to me to play well here against this field.
“I’ve put a lot of work in and I believe I’m getting better. It’s just a dream to be playing on the PGA Tour and I want it going.”
Theegala, who also teamed with Tom Hoge to win the 2022 QBE Shootout, made six of his 10 birdies in a row on the back nine through No. 15 against a single bogey at the 16th hole, taking the lead with a final birdie on the last hole.
Fourth-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway, the reigning FedEx Cup champion, birdied five of the last seven holes for a bogey-free 65 and is in a tie for second with Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal, Camillo Villegas of Colombia, Jason Day of Australia and Sungjae Im of South Korea.
“Stepping out here, you really see the impact on people and what it’s done to their lives,” Morikawa, whose grandparents lived on Maui and owner a restaurant in nearby Lahaina, said of the fires that affected the area last year. “It’s something you really can’t comprehend until you see it first-hand.
“I got to talk to a few people who lost their homes. It’s very emotional for them because everything they’ve built up their entire lives. . . . Hawaii is all about culture, and all about family.”
Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler shot 66 with five birdies on the back nine and is tied seventh with fifth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, 2016 Sentry TOC champion Jordan Spieth and Emiliano Grillo of Argentina.
Seventh-ranked Max Homa of Valencia and Cal is in a tie for 12th at 67 that includes ninth-ranked Biran Harman, while eight-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England shot 69 and is in in tie for 25th, 2023 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Eri Cole is tied for 37th at 72 and reigning U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark had a 71 and is tied for 42nd.
For complete results and second-round tee times, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard