Sahith Theegala has struggled to find the short grass throughout his young PGA Tour career.
Consider this: in 2023, Theegala ranks 130th in strokes gained off the tee. The former Pepperdine star has found the fairway just 52.28% of the time this season, ranking 167th in total driving accuracy.
But those issues should not rear their ugly head at El Cardonal at Diamante in Mexico, the site of this week’s World Wide Technology Championship.
El Cardonal, the first Tiger Woods-designed course to host a PGA Tour event, features wide fairways and expansive green complexes.
“My first impression of the golf course is I really like it,” Theegala said at his pre-tournament press conference on Wednesday.
“The first thing I think of when it’s a Tiger Woods design is that you kind of know that the fairways are going to be wide, which I love. It’s very hilly, with no flat lies, and a bunch of slopes that you can use to funnel into the greens.”
Like Theegala, Woods often tended to go haywire off the tee.
This explains why El Cardonal puts a premium on iron-play, rather than driving accuracy. Woods is widely regarded as the greatest iron player of all time.
“Tiger was so good with his irons and his approach play; I can definitely see him enjoying this kind of golf where you have to put the ball in the right tiers on the greens and place the ball, not necessarily going for the pin all the time but put yourself in a good spot,” said Ludvig Åberg, who will also tee it up this week at El Cardonal.
As for Theegala, he feels that scores will be low in Baja California Sur this week thanks to the fairways and benign forecast.
“There’s plenty of scoring holes,” Theegala noted.
“There were some really tough par 4s on the front, specifically four and eight… The back nine out here is just all strategy. There are very few drivers, a lot of placement. You need to have good angles or else these little cacti come into play and the way the arroyos and the desert are around the greens. It’s a nice blend of kind of tactical, strategic golf and then also just putting yourself in the right spots, because I think there’s going to be some really low scores out here.”
Since Theegala can bomb away and not worry about the width of the fairways or any thick rough, he should be able to find the right spots and attack the greens.
Despite his accuracy struggles off the tee this year, Theegala still has made plenty of birdies. He ranks 14th on the PGA Tour in total birdie average. Only two players in the field this week, Cameron Young and Taylor Montgomery, average more birdies than Theegala per round.
Overall, he has made 434 birdies this season, ranking 5th on tour.
And with the World Wide Technologies Championship likely being a birdie barrage, Theegala should find himself in contention over the weekend.