Pepperdine's Sahith Theegala wins Jack Nicklaus Award, sweeps college golf's player-of-the-year honors
Sahith Theegala his shot from the 18th tee during the second round of the 2020 Travelers Championship.
The final chapter of Sahith Theegala’s college career was written on Wednesday when the newly minted tour professional was named the Division I winner of the Jack Nicklaus Award given to the national college player of the year. With the recognition, the 23-year-old from Chino Hills, Calif., became the first golfer since Stanford’s Patrick Rodgers in 2014 to sweep the three most prestigious POY awards in collegiate golf.
A fifth-year senior at Pepperdine, Theegala won twice in eight starts during the 2019-’20 season, posting six top-10 finishes and no finish outside the top 20 before the COVID-19 brought an abrupt ends to the spring semester and his career. The outcome was particularly disappointing given that Theegala, who wound up with a 69.04 stroke average, had helped lead the Waves to the No. 1 ranking and had them poised to make a run at an NCAA title.
While the NCAA offered college golfers an extra year of eligibility as compensation for losing out on the chance to play for a national championship in 2020, Theegala decided instead to turn pro, having already redshirted in 2018-’19 after suffering a wrist injury. His first pro start was a third-place showing at an Outlaw Tour event. He then received sponsor’s exemptions into the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship and the Rocket Mortgage Classic, missing the cut in both events.
Theegala’s individual accomplishments this season had already earned him the Fred Haskins and Ben Hogan awards as the top D-I golfer. The latter accounts not only for college results but also performances in amateur and pro events. Only five times has an individual golfer swept all three honors.
Four other college golfers took home the Nicklaus Award in other divisions: Delta State’s Zach Zediker (D-II), Rob Wuethrich of Illinois Wesleyan (D-III), Dalton State’s Ben Rebne (NAIA), and Jon Hopkins of Mississippi Gulf Coast (NJCAA).