Genesis Open: Sahith Theegala, Phil Mickelson have a Sunday at Riviera together

By Tom Hoffarth
Published on
Genesis Open: Sahith Theegala, Phil Mickelson have a Sunday at Riviera together

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Sahith Theegala's weekend at Riviera continues with Phil Mickelson as a surprise guest in his party of three.

Theegala, the 19-year-old sophomore from Pepperdine out of Chino Hills and Diamond Bar High and the only amateur in the field, figured he had enough wiggle room after a first-round 4-under 67 to get away with posting a 2-over 73 in the second round.

Five hours after he finished his second round, he found out he not only made the cut, but would be put in a group with two-time Riviera winner and five-time majors champion Mickelson and four-time PGA Tour winner J.B. Holmes, going out at 4:30 p.m. Saturday for round three.

All three were tied for 40th at 2-under 140. Theegala and Michelson, the Riviera champion in 2008 and '09 and runner up in '07 and '12, matched the same 67-73 rounds.

The two are also even after the first four holes of their third round. They will resume Sunday at the 14th hole at 6:50 a.m., then also stay together for the final round later Sunday afternoon.

RELATED: Scores from the Genesis Open | Photo gallery | Watch live

Theegala was one of 65 players who had to roll in Saturday morning to regroup and finish his second round. He returned to the 12th fairway where his ball sat in the right rough, 207 yards away. He carried the green, came up short on a 50-foot putt but made the 3-foot return for par. He then exhaled, and went on his way.

A cheer went up from his family and friends when he finished the 18th hole with a four-foot par putt to secure a 2-under position after the two rounds.

"I really wasn't worried about (the cut) -- I was just trying to get a closing birdie, because the last two holes played really, really long," he said. "That opening shot at 12 was really the key one. Once I hit the green, it calmed me down.

"Riv is easier to play wet than when it's dry and firm, and most of my misses were pretty solid. I felt I made a lot of smart plays even with a couple of bogeys this time."

Caddie Jason Tuck, the assistant golf coach at Diamond Bar High, agreed that the par on 12 was a confidence builder.

"It was wet, and in the rough, not a real tough pin placement but not easy, and as soon as he got the first par, I knew he was rolling," said Tuck. "He really held it together those remaining six holes."

In and out

Sam Saunders, the first-round leader at 7-under 64, was 13 shots worse for the second round at 6-over 77 but, at 1-under 141, he was one shot behind Theegala and still worked his way into the final two rounds. Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer, took it almost to the end --he made the cut by sinking a long birdie putt on the 17th hole.

Another mini-drama from Saturday's second-round wrap up came when former UCLA standout Jonathan Garrick, who got in as one of four open qualifiers, made a par putt on his final hole to complete a 2-under 70 and become the 71st and last person to make the cut.

Kevin Hall, the Genesis Open Charlie Sifford exemption player, ran off three birdies on an eight-hole stretch during the second round but it wasn't enough to make the cut. Hall, a 34-year-old deaf player and former Big Ten championship winner from Ohio State, received a nice ovation as he finished at 9-over 151 on the ninth hole, which also made it onto the Golf Channel coverage.

Defending champion Bubba Watson withdrew before returning to finish his second round on Saturday morning. At 8-over par, he was already assured of missing the cut.

Other notables who didn't make the field for the final two rounds: Former Riviera champions John Merrick (11-over 153), Ernie Els (6-over 148) and Aaron Baddeley (3-over 145), current FedEx Cup leader Hideki Matsuyama (6-over 148, with a second round of 80), former Masters champ Charl Schwartzel (6-over 148), UCLA grad Kevin Chappel (5-over 147) and veteran Vijay Singh (1-over 143).

Chip shots

Cameron Tringale, the Mission Viejo native sporting a black beard that looks as if it was left behind by former Dodgers pitcher Brian Wilson, tied the low round of the weekend when he mastered a 7-under 64 for his second round on Saturday. The capper was a flop-wedge chip in from 82 yards out on the 18th for a birdie.

"A poor drive to the right, lay up, then a slam dunk right in the bottom --a pretty cool way to end," he said.

He is in search of his first PGA Tour win in 199 starts. He has made seven starts at Riviera with a tied for 12th place his best finish in 2014.

"This is my favorite course to play every year, and to put up a score like that, I feel fortunate," said Tringale. "A win would be special here. Any first win would be special but at this course, it would mean a lot. But there's a long way to go." ...

Dustin Johnson confirmed social media buzz that fiancee, Paulina, are expecting their second child. "Everything's very cool and we're both very excited," he said after his second round.

This article is written by Tom Hoffarth from Los Angeles Daily News and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network.