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flu game

PGA Championship 2024: Sahith Theegala isn't just battling the field Sunday at Valhalla. He's also battling his body


Patrick Smith

Sahith Theegala’s best showing at a major championship in eight career starts was a ninth-place finish at the 2023 Masters. Mind you, the 26-year-old has only been a pro for four years. Even so, championship chances like the one he’s looking at on Sunday at the PGA Championship—one stroke off the lead, having carded just four bogeys through 54 holes—don’t come often, and the former college player of the year understands the great spot he’s in.

Unfortunately for Theegala, if he's to pull off the biggest win of his life, he’s not only going to overcome a loaded leaderboard at Valhalla, but also an aching body.

The Californian is having a tough time in Kentucky, with an illness doing its best to knock him out of contention. He’s been under the weather since the start of this week and has slowly bounced back over the four days.

“I told my caddie walking up 17, my body is starting to ache,” Theegala said on Saturday after posting a four-under 67 to get to 14 under for the tournament, one back of co-leaders Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa. “I feel better for sure than the last couple days. Hopefully feel better tomorrow but not all the way better. All things considered, my body feels good.”

While some golfers have been pounding sports drinks and protein bars—well, unless you’re John Daly—Theegala posted a photo of Ricola’s Original Herb Cough Drops. Perhaps if he wins the PGA, there’ll be a Ricola sponsorship in his future.

Theegala mentioned that he started the week with allergies and then started feeling achy, with a sore throat unfortunately on the way. His energy and drive have been low, so he’s emphasized hitting it straight at all costs. “It’s kinda everything,” he told NBC Golf.

“I think he's just trying to drink enough water and stay upright. Lots of coughing/sniffling going on out there on the course," Theegala's caddie Carl Smith told The Fried Egg’s Garrett Johnston.

It would be one thing if it was just flu-like symptoms, but Theegala is also recovering from an abnormal and painful injury he suffered before playing in last week’s Wells Fargo Championship that he exacerbate at Quail Hollow. It's plagued him this week at Valhalla, because, why not?

“I [dislocated] a rib on Saturday the week before the Wells Fargo, and wasn't sure I was going to play. I immediately called my chiro and got three really painful adjustments to get it back in place and couldn't really breathe or move all Saturday and Sunday.

“It was just kind of a freak injury. I was just sitting down, I just sat in the golf cart a little bit aggressively and just felt a little pinch. And at first, I thought it was strain and then it came on, and I was like—it was the same rib I slipped last night.”

Even with all of those ailments, Theegala has shot 65, 67 and 67 over his first three Valhalla rounds. He’s third in the field in putting, hitting ridiculous shots and in contention for his first major. If only we could all play this well while healthy …