Sahith Theegala overcomes “freak injury” to soar into PGA Championship contention

One of the most popular young players in the game arrived at this week’s PGA Championship finally feeling healthy.

Sahith Theegala, playing in his eighth career major, suffered a bruised rib the week before the Wells Fargo Championship—a “freak injury,” he called it.

“I slipped a rib on Saturday the week before the Wells Fargo and wasn’t sure I was going to play,” Theegala explained.

“I immediately called my [doctor] and got three really painful adjustments to get it back in place and couldn’t really breathe or move all Saturday and Sunday. But I traveled [to Charlotte] Monday, knowing that I’ve done it before, and it’s healed in a week or two. So I figured with some aggressive rehab, it was going to heal quickly. Honestly, by the time I got to Thursday, I felt pretty good. Not 100 percent, but probably 80 to 90 percent.”

Sahith Theegala, PGA Championship

Sahith Theegala during the first round of the 2024 PGA Championship.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Theegala, who played collegiately at Pepperdine, explained how he sustained his bruised rib.

It sounded painful.

“I was just sitting down. I just sat in the golf cart a little bit aggressively and felt a little pinch,” Theegala said.

“At first, I thought it was a strain, and then it came on, and I was like—it was the same rib I slipped last night. It’s all good; I just need to get stronger in that part of my back. I know what we need to work on.”

He went on to explain that he now feels 100 percent at Valhalla, where he posted a 6-under 65 on day one. He is currently tied for second with Tony Finau, three shots behind Xander Schauffele, who set all sorts of records Thursday.

Theegala looked uncomfortable at times throughout the round, but he quickly shook those moments off. Instead, he remained patient, so much so that he capped off his round with three straight birdies.

“I parred hole 4, which might play as the easiest hole on the course today. It’s almost drivable to that front pin. Just told myself, stay patient, get through 5 and 6, and 7, 8 and 9 are honestly birdie holes,” Theegala said.

Sahith Theegala, Tony Finau, PGA Championship

Sahith Theegala and Tony Finau fist bump after the first rounds at the 2024 PGA Championship.
Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

“It was an awesome way to finish for sure. It definitely turned a good round into a great round.”

His final birdie of the day came via a 32-foot putt.

“I had a great teach from Tony and Tyrrell [Hatton],” Theegala said of his birdie make at the 9th.

“Tyrrell was only a couple of feet to the right of me. Tony was directly five feet behind me. So I got a great idea of what the line was, a great idea of the speed, and then it was just a matter of matching it up. It was nice because I striped the putt and was just hoping it would take that last little turn at the end, and it did.”

Theegala had a massive smile on his face when that final putt dropped. He also elicited a fist pump, knowing that his final three holes produced a terrific round on a gettable golf course.

He will have to continue to go low this weekend to remain in contention, but at least he does not have to worry about his freak injury—something that many young players take for granted.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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