Sahith Theegala (65) Leads Rain-Impacted Phoenix Open

Sahith Theegala (65) Leads Rain-Impacted Phoenix Open
Sahith Theegala Sahith Theegala reacts as he walks off the 18th hole during a weather delay at the Pro-am to the WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Feb. 7, 2024. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Field Level Media

Sahith Theegala carded a 6–under-par 65 to set the early pace before play was suspended at the WM Phoenix Open on Thursday in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Due to unusually rainy weather in the area this week, the first round was initially suspended due to unplayable conditions for 3 1/2 hours Thursday afternoon at TPC Scottsdale.

Play resumed at 4:02 p.m. local time, but two hours later the sun had set with the entire afternoon wave of golfers—half the field—still on the course.

The tournament will resume Friday morning.

Andrew Novak was one shot behind Theegala. He went 5 under through nine holes, highlighted by a chip-in eagle at the par-5 13th. Ireland’s Shane Lowry and South Korea’s S.H. Kim shot rounds of 4–under 67 to form a tie for third.

Theegala played his round amid particularly cold, wet conditions. The PGA Tour put “lift, clean and place” rules in effect.

“Honestly, all we were trying to do at that point was just stay dry and stay warm,” Theegala said. “I had my mitts, had my hand warmers, (caddie Carl Smith is) holding four towels and an umbrella, and trying to wash my ball and all that stuff. So, we were just so focused on surviving that I felt like the round, all of a sudden, got to hole 14 or 15 on my round and the horn blew (for the delay).”

Theegala started his round with a 3-under 33 on the back nine. He then birdied three in a row at Nos. 2–4, carded his only bogey of the day at the par-4 fifth and immediately responded with his final birdie at the par-4 sixth.

The 26-year-old is plenty familiar with the Phoenix Open, a favorite stop for golf fans and players alike. As a rookie in 2022, Theegala was in the running on Sunday and ultimately finished third.

“I just kind of embrace the craziness of the week and the fans,” Theegala said. “It’s good people watching, honestly. You’re out on the golf course waiting and you just look around and there’s a hundred different storylines you can make out of it. So, it’s a fun week for multiple reasons.”

Lowry had a busy back nine, his first nine, with six birdies and a bogey. He cooled off from there, with eight pars and a bogey making up his front.

“I was going quite well, obviously, before the delay,” Lowry said. “It got really bad towards the end; it was quite tough. We came back out, the wind was not blowing as strong, but the ball was going nowhere, and it was cold and kind of tough. I was happy I made a couple of really nice saves coming in, and I’m pretty happy with my day’s work.”

Lowry, who hasn’t won a PGA Tour event since his major breakthrough at the 2019 Open Championship, said he is gunning to get into the designated events he currently isn’t qualified for.

“I have a bit of a weird schedule this year,” he said. “I’m not in some of the big tournaments, which is pretty annoying to be sitting at home watching those on TV, so it kind of gives me that little bit of motivation to kind of play as good as I can this week to get into next week.”

Jordan Spieth was close behind at 3–under 68. Cameron Young (through five holes) and Canada’s Nick Taylor (through six holes) were also at 3 under.