Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands



The Grind

Sahith Theegala's family win, John Daly's golf cart mishap and an actual on-course knockout punch

September 19, 2023

Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we are so happy for the breakout star of Netflix’s “Full Swing.” No, we’re not talking about Joel Dahmen (although he now has a kid and a signature cocktail), or Sahith Theegala or even the CUT LINE, which got more play than anything or anyone. No, we’re talking about Murli Theegala. Sahith’s dad stole every scene he was in with his energy—and now he has a PGA Tour title to celebrate:

Man, I’d love to hang out with that guy. What a character. And what a feeling it must be for him and his wife, Karuna, to witness their son achieving his dream. The tears must have been flowing like wine in Napa afterward. OK, here's what else has us pumped up this week.

WE’RE BUYING

Sahith Theegala: The family win was certainly among the feel-good story of the year in pro golf, especially with Theegala having a 30-plus person personal gallery following his every step of the way on Sunday at Silverado. Despite the strong start to the 25-year-old’s career, it’s been a couple seasons most known for another kind of tears with close-call finishes in Phoenix and Hartford last year and missing the Tour Championship by one spot last month with a 72nd-hole bogey at the BMW. But Theegala looked like prime Tiger with a 54-hole lead, never flirting with danger during the final round on his way to his maiden PGA Tour title:

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Jed Jacobsohn

It’s just too bad this didn’t come a couple weeks earlier or he might be repping the red, white and blue in Italy next week. Speaking of Ryder Cuppers …

Justin Thomas: The two-time major champ’s Ryder Cup rehabilitation tour is in great shape after a fifth-place finish in Napa. JT cooled off on Sunday with a 72, but his performance was more than enough to make Captain Zach Johnson feel a lot better about his most controversial team pick.

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Jed Jacobsohn

And Thomas feels a lot better about his game, particularly off the tee after going to a longer driver to pick up some distance. Funny, I made improvements in that area having my driver shortened last year, but, hey, to each his own. In any event, Thomas should request to take that club with him on the flight to Rome. You can never be too safe with the airlines these days.

Ryan Fox: This bomber certainly doesn’t need to tweak his big stick, especially after picking up the biggest win of his career at the BMW PGA Championship. The New Zealander who has never played for the Internationals at the Presidents Cup basically beat the entire European Ryder Cup team by himself at Wentworth. And after, cameras caught a cool moment of him being particularly excited about getting to go back to the Masters:

Zach Johnson should think about letting him go to Italy also as U.S. team guest—just to get inside Europe's heads.

WE’RE SELLING

Sergio Garcia’s Ryder Cup try: The Telegraph’s James Corrigan reports the Spanish star made a last-ditch try to get onto the European team by offering to pay £700,000 worth of various fines he owes to the DP World Tour after leaving for LIV Golf. His plea was turned down, however, because there was no way around the fact he had officially resigned from the DP World Tour in May, and DP World Tour membership is one of two prerequistes for playing on the European team.

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Jan Kruger/R&A

While we appreciate Garcia’s passion for playing in the biennial event, a few rebuttals. A.) He knew the deal when he left for LIV; B.) Why hasn’t he paid the fines yet when other players have?; C.) Imagine only being 17th in the LIV standings and not having a top 15 at a major in more than six years and thinking you deserve a spot on Europe’s team? I realize he’s a Ryder Cup legend, but c’mon now.

Playing Stewart Hagestad in match play: Specifically in the U.S. Mid-Am Championship where all he does is win, win, win no matter what. Despite working a real office job and rarely playing in the winters (we had a delightful talk with Stew on this week’s episode of The Loop podcast), this guy morphs into the Tiger Woods of (mid-)amateur golf every spring. After playing for his fourth victorious U.S. Walker Cup at St. Andrews earlier in the month—and having to get permission from his boss to play—Hagestad joined some rare company that includes Tiger by winning a single USGA event for a third time.

Stewart Hagestad

Kathryn Riley

Once again, Hagestad marched through a six-round match-play gauntlet, this time at picturesque Sleepy Hollow Country Club. That means the 32-year-old will likely receive another invite to play in the Masters and will be exempt for next year's U.S. Open at Pinehurst. So if you draw him in match play, good luck, because you’re basically drawing dead. Unless he can’t get out of work that day.

Flipping your golf cart: We have no idea what happened here, but PGA Tour Champions player Tom Gillis shared this photo that appears to be John Daly’s golf cart flipped over during the first round (I did some Getty sleuthing and he was wearing a yellow shirt that day) of the Sanford International (Gillis was also in the field):

What an incredible picture, in particular because Daly’s caddie bib says “DriveSafeSD.com.” You can’t make it up. On the bright side, the two-time major champ and legendary placekicker emerged unscathed and posted his best PGA Tour Champions finish (T-7) in more than two years!

ON TAP

The PGA Tour is … off again? Wow, this really is a new fall schedule. No tournament this week or next with the Ryder Cup. But we’ve got a great women’s event with the Solheim Cup in Spain, where we like the U.S. team’s chances—provided Danielle Kang gets all her golf clubs:

Oh, and LIV Golf is back with a trip to greater Chicago and Rich Harvest Farms, emphasis on RICH, am I right? Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Random tournament fact: Europe has won four of the past six Solheim Cups, including the past two. Jeez, do the Americans not have a TASK FORCE?

RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK

—John Daly will ever teach driver’s ed: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds

—Sahith Theegala will ever be on the U.S. Ryder Cup team: Even odds

—If he does, Murli and Karuna will happily serve as team parents: LOCK

PHOTO/TWEET/INSTAGRAM OF THE WEEK

This is just a loyal fan right here:

And it’s great to see Keegan Bradley appreciates it.

CLUB PRO GUY TWEET OF THE WEEK

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (FIGHT DIVISION)

We've seen some real doozies in recent years, but never one that ended with such a knockout blow:

Don't worry, there's another video showing the guy getting up. But damn, that was cold. And the stomp after might warrant felony charges. Be careful out there, folks.

VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK (BUDDIES DIVISION)

If the actual Ryder Cup produces half this drama, golf fans are in for a real treat next week!

What an amazing video. But just as amazing is the fact that it’s a 64(!)-man competition! These guys are all winners in my book for having that many friends.

THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITIES PLAYING GOLF

We love to see it, too, but let's just say Coco Gauff will not be switching to a golf career anytime soon.

THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION

Arnold Palmer had “Arnie’s Army” and Sahith Theegala has … “Theegala’s Team”? We’ll work on the name, but the support he got was awesome. And so was this video put together by the PGA Tour:

Aww.

THIS WEEK IN PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION (BUDDING BROMANCE DIVISION)

Watch out, Tiger, it looks like Rory McIlroy may have a new bestie!

So cute. But there won’t be anything cute about facing a Rory-Viktor pairing at the Ryder Cup.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"If it wasn’t for golf, where would Phil Mickelson be? You know, he’d be gambling in a ditch somewhere.” —Lanny Wadkins doubling down on how disappointed he is in Phil for LIV and allegedly wanting to bet on the 2012 Ryder Cup. A bit harsh! And four days later, Phil just happened to post this statement.

Good for you, Phil. I should join you.

THIS AND THAT

Congrats to Steve Stricker for winning a sixth 2023 title on the PGA Tour Champions and breaking the senior circuit’s season earnings record with nearly $4 million (and counting). That’s a lot better than living on a pension. Congrats to Brooks Koepka for being nominated as the “Sexiest first-time dad” as part of People Magazine’s annual Sexiest Man Alive campaign. Ts & Ps to Joel Dahmen for getting left out. And congrats to defending Golf Digest Match Play Championship winner Greg Snedeker on destroying me, 5 and 4, in the semifinals of this year's event. I knew as soon as I posted that silly “I’m feeling 4.2” video about my dad-best handicap that I was due for a stinker. … That being said, I did manage at least one golf highlight earlier in the week when I nearly aced the 220-yard, par-3 third at Winged Foot West. You know, the one Billy Casper famously laid up all four rounds during his 1959 U.S. Open win there:

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Weak sauce, Billy. Hopefully Rick Pitino (that’s his house) was watching as I struck that 5-wood (“Playing 230 according to our caddies so get off me!). But in what should have been a sign of things to come in my match, I couldn’t even win the hole, because Golf Digest Editorial Director Max Adler hit one tight as well:

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Max also shot even par(!) that day. What a stud. And I’m not just saying that because he runs the magazine.

RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER

Is that the closest I’ll ever come to a hole-in-one?

Where was People Magazine when I became a first-time dad?

Where does Murli Theegala hang out?