Ryder Aces Wild 16th, Theegala Holds Onto Phoenix Open Lead

By JOHN NICHOLSON, AP Sports activities Author

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Sam Ryder introduced down the home with a hole-in-one on the stadium sixteenth gap Saturday within the WM Phoenix Open, the place newcomer Sahith Theegala topped a leaderboard as crowded because the course.

Ryder’s wedge shot on the 124-yard gap landed excellent and quick, bounced a few instances, spun left and tumbled in. The rowdy followers on the 17,000-seat gap threw drinks within the air in celebration and littered the turf with bottles, cans and cups, resulting in a couple of 15-minute delay.

“I don’t know the way I might choose a gap over this one,” mentioned Ryder, eight strokes behind Theegala after an even-par 71. “I don’t suppose there’s any gap that has the electrical energy that this one has.”

Ryder’s first tour ace was the tenth at No. 16 because the match moved to the course in 1997 and first since Francesco Molinari within the third spherical in 2015. Tiger Woods did it in 1997 earlier than grandstands ringed the opening.

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“It simply ended up being an ideal 54-degree wedge,” Ryder mentioned. “Every part all the time performs a bit of shorter in there, adrenaline or no matter it’s.”

With round 200,000 followers packing agency and quick TPC Scottsdale on one other sunny, 80-degree day within the Valley of the Solar, Theegala overcame a double bogey on the par-4 second to shoot a 69.

“What a day,” Theegala mentioned. “So many ups and downs. I imply, it was wild.”

Making his occasion debut on a sponsor exemption, Theegala had a 14-under 199 whole for a one-stroke lead over defending champion Brooks Koepka. FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler and Talor Gooch have been one other stroke again.

“I’m actually exhausted proper now,” Theegala mentioned. “Most likely, I hit it within the desert 5 instances. I acquired my ball stepped on twice, acquired my ball picked up twice. Very draining, for certain.”

Theegala is attempting to turn out to be the primary participant to win on a sponsor exemption since Martin Laird within the 2020 Shriners Youngsters’s Open. The 24-year-old Indian-American grew up in Chino Hills, California, and starred at Pepperdine. In 2020, he swept the three main school participant of the 12 months awards.

He’s taking part in for the fifth straight week, together with his dad and mom and a few members of the family attending the final 4 in California and Arizona.

“It was laborious to see them,” Theegala mentioned. “Simply engulfed within the sea of individuals.”

After hitting the lip of a fairway bunker en path to the double bogey on No. 2, Theegala rallied with birdies on Nos, 6, 7 and eight. He dropped a shot on the eleventh, birdied the par-5 thirteenth and holed a 15-footer on the par-4 seventeenth.

“Clearly, actually unhealthy begin and pleased with the best way I fought again there,” Theegala mentioned. “However nonetheless attempting to take all of it in. There’s simply is a lot happening there, too. Which is an efficient factor. I actually loved the followers on the market.”

Koepka had a 68. The four-time main champion is the final participant to win the occasion in his first look, doing it in 2015.

“I’m taking part in stable, so simply exit and go play spherical tomorrow and see what occurs,” Koepka mentioned. “Simply must maintain placing it the best way I did. I really feel assured. I like the place my recreation’s at, and we’ll see.”

Scheffler flirted together with his second 59 earlier than settling for a 62. Searching for his first tour victory, he started the day 9 strokes behind Theegala.

“I feel it’s a enjoyable occasion,” Scheffler mentioned. “I feel it might be a bit of bit draining if it was like this each week, however one week a 12 months is fairly particular.”

Scheffler performed his first 9 in 7-under 27, and added two birdies on his second 9. He was the final participant on the tour to shoot 59, doing it within the 2020 Northern Belief. Jim Furyk is the one participant to interrupt 60 twice within the PGA Tour, capturing 58 and 59.

The fourth-ranked Cantlay, additionally making his first begin within the occasion, had a 68. Gooch birdied the final three holes for a 67, making a 40-footer on 18.

Schauffele, the chief at 14 underneath on the flip, shot 69. He made a double bogey after driving into the water on the par-4 eleventh.

Hideki Matsuyama (66) was 11 underneath with Tom Hoge (67), Max Homa (68), Alex Noren (67) and Adam Hadwin (68).

Matsuyama, the Masters champion who received in Scottsdale in 2016 and 2017, is making his first begin since successful the Sony Open a month in the past in Hawaii. Hoge received at Pebble Seaside final week for his first PGA Tour title.

DIVOTS: Area Metropolis Health club in Humble, Texas, received $1 million for Ryder’s ace by “WM’s Million Greenback Shot” contest. Area Metropolis Health club was considered one of 20 WM small-business prospects randomly chosen as a contest finalist, with every of the 20 finalists randomly assigned a threesome of gamers. … Prime-ranked Jon Rahm was 8 underneath after a 68. The previous Arizona State star lives just a few miles from the course.

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