CROMWELL, Conn. — Before the primary round of the Travelers Championship on Thursday, Sahith Theegala, a PGA Tour rookie, was asked if young players in the sector were apprehensive concerning the cluster of veterans spurning the tour to hitch the rival, Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit.
“Actually, there’s a next man up mentality,” Theegala, 24, answered. “There are a ton of incredibly good players coming up. There’s not going to be a difficulty finding the subsequent group of top golfers.”
With one hole remaining in Sunday’s final round of the Travelers, it appeared that Theegala was going to be prophetic in probably the most personally satisfying way.
Theegala held a one-stroke lead as he stood on the 18th tee after rallying to catch the third-round leader, Xander Schauffele, who began the day with a three-shot edge over Theegala. Reaching for a driver and needing to hit a left-to-right cut shot, Theegala, who had not bogeyed any of the previous 17 holes, felt confident.
“A cut is my bread and butter,” he said later. “And I hit it well, it just didn’t cut. I don’t know why — adrenaline, possibly?”
The shot got here to rest in a fairway bunker, inches from an imposing, steep bank. Theegala needed two shots to flee the sand, which led to a double bogey and paved the way in which for Schauffele’s sixth profession tour victory. He birdied the 18th hole to win the Travelers Championship by two strokes over Theegala and J.T. Poston.
For Schauffele, who won the gold medal on the Tokyo Olympics last 12 months, it was his first individual tour victory in three years. (He teamed with Patrick Cantlay to win the Zurich Classic in Louisiana in April.)
“I’m pleased because I used to be expecting to be in a playoff,” Schauffele, 28, said. “That was a very strong field, and Sahith just kept charging. It was a little bit of a shock to see the way in which it played out at the top. I knew the finish could be tight.”
Statistically, Schauffele has been having one in every of his best seasons, even when his efforts had not led to a person victory, something Schauffele acknowledged Sunday evening.
“I just hadn’t put 4 good consecutive rounds together, which is why mentally that is going to be such a lift for me,” he said. “I’m feeling like this might jump-start some things for me. At the top of the round, I felt really locked in.”
It was the second time this 12 months that Theegala had come near earning his first tour victory. On the Phoenix Open in February, an unlucky bounce on the seventeenth hole of the ultimate round led to a bogey that left him one shot in need of qualifying for a playoff. That loss left Theegala in tears, but Sunday he was calm and measured in his evaluation of the ultimate sequences. He occasionally smiled, if wryly.
“I played lots of good golf all week, and I’m just going to maintain doing what I’m doing,” he said. “That’s the sensation I’m leaving with — lots of positives.”
Schauffele agreed with Theegala, in additional ways than one.
“He’s a very good player, and he just needs to maintain knocking on the door until he breaks that thing down,” Schauffele said.
He added: “There’s been lots of speak about where golf is immediately. Some say there’s a fracturing of our game, but the long run’s shiny.”
With nine holes remaining on Sunday, Theegala was one in every of 4 golfers under 30 jockeying for the lead on the Travelers, one in every of the tour’s oldest events. The group included Michael Thorbjornsen, a 20-year-old amateur, and Poston, 29. Each were in contention to unseat Schauffele at the highest of the leaderboard.
Entering the closing holes, the duel between Schauffele and Theegala began to resemble match play, although Theegala was playing one group ahead of Schauffele, who was in the ultimate group of the day.
Theegala tied for the lead for the primary time when he birdied the par-4 fifteenth hole, and he took the lead outright by sinking an 11-foot birdie on the par-4 seventeenth.
As usual, the sector on the Travelers was deep with top-ranked players, but this 12 months was especially chock-full since the T.P.C. River Highlands golf course outside Hartford is simply 105 miles from the Country Club outside Boston, which hosted last week’s U.S. Open.
Poston, who entered the Travelers No. 162 in the lads’s world rankings and has one profession PGA Tour victory, in 2019, had a sparkling, six-under-par 64 on Sunday. Poston had three birdies on the front nine and three more on the back nine and didn’t have a bogey. It was his third top-10 finish in his last eight events.
Thorbjornsen qualified for this 12 months’s U.S. Open, which was held near his boyhood home of Wellesley, Mass., but he missed the cut last week. On the Travelers, he was sharp, with 4 rounds within the 60s, including a 65 within the second round. On Sunday, he eagled the par-5 sixth hole after knocking a fairway wood 260 yards to the green and leaving a tap-in putt for a 3 on the opening. 4 birdies and two bogeys led to a four-under 66.