120th SCGA Amateur Championship Recap
The cream rose to the top in the 120th SCGA Amateur Championship at Lakeside GC as Pepperdine senior Sahith Theegala ran away from a stacked field of the region’s best to earn his first SCGA title with a blemish-free final round of 5-under 65.
“It feels unbelievable,” said an elated Theegala. “I've played this event for quite a while now, so to have my name etched on that trophy is pretty special. It really hasn't even set in yet.”
In what was one of the most anticipated final groups in recent memory, Theegala headed into the final day with a one-shot lead over Lakeside GC member and course record holder Trip Morris, with USC’s Charlie Reiter lurking close behind.
But Theegala mashed the gas pedal early on Sunday and never let up. He turned on the jets with a front-nine 3-under 32, which included superb ball-striking and flawless lag putting on the speedy Lakeside green surfaces. Theegala had a tap-in birdie on No. 2 after reaching the par-5 in two, and backed that up with an improbable birdie on No. 4 after spraying a drive left into the trees. His remarkable recovery shot left him a few yards off the green. Then on the 225 yard par-3 ninth, Theegala lasered an iron to the tucked flagstick before rolling in a 25-footer for another birdie. Morris fell back and found himself 1-over at the turn, with disappointing bogeys on No. 3 and No. 9 while Reiter could never jumpstart his round, making the turn at even par.
The crowds for the final group were enormous all day. With the entire Theegala crew out supporting their guy and Lakeside members out in droves following the hometown kid, it made for a surreal scene all afternoon.
“It was unbelievable. I haven't played many tournaments in a long time, so it was great having such a crowd of family and loved ones,” said Theegala. “It meant the world that they all came out to watch and support me.”
Theegala didn’t falter at all on the back-nine, continuing to fire at flagsticks and roll in putts with a silky smooth stroke. He birdied the short par-4 12th, before stuffing one to eight feet on No. 16 to seal the deal. His blistering final round helped distance himself by eight strokes ahead of second place.
An All-American for the Pepperdine Waves, Theegala came into the championship ranked No. 71 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and was part of Team SCGA for the 2018 Pacific Coast Amateur with young SoCal superstars Matt Wolff and Colin Morikawa.
Further down the leaderboard, USC’s Sam Kim used a strong weekend of 64-68 to climb into third place. Reigning U.S. Amateur runner-up and UCLA Bruin Devon Bling went 69-66-68 after a disappointing opening-round 72 to snag fourth place. Reiter finished T-5 with Pepperdine commit Caden Fioroni at 3-under.