PGA Championship

Saturday Notebook from PGA of America Pool Reporter Jeff Babineau

May 18, 2024


Jeff Babineau


Theegala welcomes the nerves

Sahith Theegala is still a relative newcomer when it comes to playing in major championships. This week marks only the ninth career major for the 26-year-old Californian, but he is starting to get comfortable in them.

This week, Theegala has been a bit under the weather with a head cold and flu symptoms, but his golf has been great. On Saturday, he needed a birdie at the par-4 9th just to get to the turn in 1-over 36. And then he turned it on, making five birdies on the way in to shoot 67 and climb to within a shot of co-leaders Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele.

What does it mean to him to even have a chance on Sunday?

“It means everything,” he said. “This is why we play is to get in contention late on Sunday. I haven't been in this spot before. My other nice spot in a major was a mega back door (T-9, 2023 Masters)...It's going to be a different feel tomorrow.

“I felt a lot of those feelings today and was able to overcome the nerves and stick to my process. I've been playing so well, so just want to keep it rolling, and I'm just going to have a lot of fun tomorrow. I'll be nervous and it's going to be great to embrace those nerves because it's a feeling you don't get often.”

Justin's run for the Rose(s)

“Gentleman” Jim Barnes of England, one of the longer hitters of his era, won the first two PGA Championships ever played in 1916 and 1919. That’s more than a century ago, and back then, the Championship was match play.

Since, there have been PGA Champions from Scotland and South Africa, Northern Ireland and Germany, Zimbabwe and Australia, to name a few. But since Barnes, no other winners from England.

Justin Rose hopes that he can change that on Sunday in the final round of the 106th PGA Championship. Rose, 43, a former U.S. Open champion, shot 7-under 64 on Saturday to get himself up close to the leaders, just three shots out with one round to play.

“Listen, that’s what I am working towards,” Rose said Saturday. “Still believe in myself. Still believe that I have these opportunities in the majors, for sure.”

This is Rose’s 22nd start in the PGA Championship. Saturday marked his low career round at the PGA Championship (previous was 66, shot three times) and tied his lowest round in any major – he has played in 78 of them before this week. His best round ever at a major was the 64 he shot at the 2018 Open Championship.

How is he approaching Sunday? With a packed leaderboard, Rose said he will be firing away.

“It’s sort of just a free-wheel opportunity, I think,” he said. “Yeah, just go out there and free it up and be on the front foot to see if you can get the momentum going, absolutely.”

Rose was playing alongside Ireland’s Shane Lowry Saturday, watching Lowry tie the all-time major scoring mark of 62. There have been five 62s in the history of majors, and Rose now has seen two up close, having played with Rickie Fowler when Fowler shot 62 last summer at LACC in the U.S. Open.

The PGA Championship’s cutting edge

Seventeen players returned to Valhalla early Saturday to complete the second round, and the cut (low 70 and ties) eventually fell at 1-under 141. Since the PGA Championship went from match play to stroke play in 1958, it was the first time the cut to play the final 36 holes was below par.

One of the players making a nice rally to play on the weekend was two-time major winner Dustin Johnson, who birdied his final hole, the par-5 18th, to shoot 68 and make the cut on the number at 1 under. Johnson actually made four birdies and no bogeys over his last seven holes. He started his tournament by shooting 5-over 40 on the front nine Thursday.

Johnson, who turns 40 in June, is competing in his 15th PGA Championship. He was second to Brooks Koepka in 2019 at Bethpage Black and tied for second a year later, when Collin Morikawa won at Harding Park.

Johnson shot 71 in Round 3 on Saturday.  

Short shots: The resumption of the second round early Saturday was pushed back due to fog, and as a result, the PGA of America shifted plays from twosomes to threesomes in the third round, off two tees. The final grouping consisted of Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa and Sahith Theegala... This week’s PGA Championship marks the first major championship since the 2007 PGA Championship (Southern Hills) in which no players representing Spain made the cut. Before that, the last major played without a Spaniard in the post-cut field was the 1998 PGA Championship, which was held at Sahalee, in Washington... When Jordan Spieth eagled the par-5 7th, it marked his first career eagle at the PGA Championship. This week marks Spieth’s 12th PGA Championship start. He starts Sunday tied for 19th place, seven shots back, as he seeks to add the PGA Championship to complete a career Grand Slam. Spieth shot 4-under 67 on Saturday.