Inzai City (Japan), Oct 15 (IANS) Sahith Theegala was on fire through his first nine holes with seven birdies and no bogeys for a brilliant 7-under score and then had an even par on his second nine.
He had two birdies against a double bogey at Par-4 fourth, where he went into the water. His total of 7-under 63, the best card of the day.
After 71-67 earlier, he is now 9-under 201 and moved to tied-eighth. Theegala is five behind leader Rickie Fowler (66) who is 14-under. Fowler’s earlier rounds were 67-63 and last won more than three years ago.
Keegan Bradley (66) was lying second at 13-under and Andrew Putnam (68), one of the 36-hole leaders, was third at 12-under. Viktor Hovland (64) was fourth and three players Maverick McNealy (64), Cameron Champ (64) and Hayden Buckley (64) were tied for fifth.
Theegala, who has been very excited about being in Japan for his Zozo debut, said, “The first 29. Yeah, it was a lot of fun. I made a couple of nice putts early and then I started hitting some shots really close that I didn’t really try to, but we had some good numbers and it’s just one of those days where the numbers are right and I kind of fired at some pins. Even played well on the back (front side of the course) honestly, just hit a couple really loose drives that cost me a couple shots, but yeah, overall really fun day.”
On his stunning 9-under for nine holes, Theegala said, “No, I’ve never shot 7-under in nine holes, so no. I definitely felt like I had a couple like I made like a 25-footer on 11 and it felt kind of a bonus. Yeah, I played really well on the front nine (back end of the course). I actually parred, I made like a six-footer for par on the first par 5, so that’s a hole that a ton of people are going to have birdie looks at. So if I’m being really picky, I guess I could have gotten one more there, but no, I played incredibly on that back nine, for sure.”
He added, “It’s been so awesome, people have been the best part of being out here. Well, along with the food. I’d say people and food are tied.
“Yeah, today (round 3) the fans were awesome again. I was playing right behind the lead group on the back, so I think a couple of them stayed behind to kind of cheer my group on.”