Fri, 01 Dec 2023

Napa [US], September 17 (ANI): Indian American Sahith Theegala stayed on course for his maiden PGA Tour as the season got underway at the Fortinet Championships.

Theegala fired a bogey-free 67 after rounds of 68-64 in the first rounds. He is now in the lead on 17-under. In his 67 four of his five birdies came on the back-nine as he pulled two clear of the chasing pack that also included Australia's Cam Davis and Justin Thomas of the U.S., both charging up the leaderboard with sparkling 65s. Kim will play the final round in the company of Theegala and Thomas.

Korea's S.H. Kim displayed nerves of steel in the third round of the Fortinet Championship en route to a 3-under 69 to end the day tied second and two strokes behind leader Sahith Theegala.

Kim, who is chasing his maiden PGA TOUR victory as the perfect 25th birthday gift on Sunday, brilliantly bounced back from back-to-back bogeys on Hole Nos 13 and 14 at Silverado Resort in Napa, California by shooting a hat-trick of birdies over the subsequent three holes. He had a chance to make it four in a row but narrowly missed his sixth birdie of the day from six feet on the par-5 18th to reach 15-under 201 at the 54-hole mark.

Theegala has placed himself in the driver's seat to secure his first PGA TOUR title on his 74th career start. If he succeeds, he would become the 12th first-time winner of the season. While he relishes the opportunity for a long-awaited breakthrough, he acknowledged it would take four good rounds to get the job done.

"It's really hard and really good golf to put yourself in contention. I've said it so many times, the PGA TOUR's probably as deep as it's ever been and these guys are really, really good. It takes a lot, three, four rounds of really good golf to be in contention," he explained.

"I just didn't really do that much at the end of the year. I was playing well, but just kind of in that 10 to 25 range I guess in the last few events. The main thing that I'm kind of focusing on was just making progress and I felt like I made progress again throughout the year.

"Kim admitted he was overwhelmed playing in front of the large crowds. "It was a bit hectic out there. Sahith had quite a big following and I just haven't played in this atmosphere for a while," said Kim, who began the day tied for the lead with Theegala who is also chasing a first win.

"I tried to get into my rhythm, it took some time, but I'm pretty happy with my round."Playing in his rookie season on the PGA TOUR, Kim was quick to play down his eagerness to celebrate his birthday in style.

Compatriot KH Lee was the second highest-ranked Asian in the standings, carding a 69 to stay tied for 11th, seven shots off the pace. For another Korean, Sangmoon Bae, the prospects of securing multiple victories in the tournament were thrown off course following a 75 which dropped him to T18 on 208. (ANI)

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