124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

College golfer sinks winning putt while wearing Kobe Bryant jersey

January 29, 2020

Kobe Bryant may be gone, but the tributes to the NBA legend continue to pour in across sports. On Tuesday night, Joel Embiid scored 24 points while wearing No. 24 in honor of Bryant, even yelling "Kobe!" while making a fadeaway. Earlier, Justin Thomas shared he would use words as well to honor his favorite athlete by having his wedges stamped with various Kobe-related phrases for this week's Waste Management Phoenix Open. And then there was college golfer Sahith Theegala.

The Pepperdine senior and California native is a lifelong Lakers fan and lives in an apartment less than half a mile from where a helicopter carrying Kobe, his daughter, and seven others tragically crashed on Sunday. Just two days later, Theegala produced a one-shot win at the Southwestern Invitational and donned a Kobe jersey he'd been carrying in his golf bag for his final two-putts. Golf Channel's Brentley Romine captured the emotional scene:

“He was my sports idol, as well as millions and millions of other people,” Theegala told Romine after. “To lose him a couple days ago was absolutely devastating and heartbreaking, and I was just really happy I could pay respects to him.”

Theegala's performance helped lead Pepperdine to a 17-shot win. And you might recognize his name from a ridiculous 16-shot individual win at a collegiate event in 2018. But we're pretty sure he'll remember this narrow victory for much longer.