Player of the year: Sahith Theegala, Diamond Bar, Junior
High school golf victories come down to putting.
“It definitely is almost all putting,” Diamond Bar High School’s Sahith Theegala said. “We’re all pretty good ball-strikers. I think a lot of people do not believe that juniors are almost as good as ball-strikers as the pros. But we don’t make half as many putts.”
Theegala made putts when it counted in the 2014 season and it earned him the San Gabriel Valley Newspaper’s Player of the Year honors.
“It is definitely practice,” the junior said of the difference between putting for juniors and the pros. “Also experience and a lot of a mental game, too. They have confidence in seeing that putt and making it over and over again. That helps.
“But almost all of juniors golf comes down to putting.”
Theegala, who verbally committed to play at Pepperdine last September, was the lone San Gabriel Valley-area athlete to qualify for the CIF State/California Golf Association finals. Playing in a group with eventual champion Justin Suh of Evergreen. Theegala finished tied for 13th with a 1-over-par 72. He had four birdies and five bogeys at San Gabriel Valley Country Club.
“It was just not enough putts to get the momentum,” he said. “My putting was pretty terrible.”
Theegala had three Top 10 finishes in the playoffs. After winning the Hacienda League title, he was third to teammate Dean Sakata in the CIF-Southern Section Central Division regionals at Canyon Crest Country Club in Riverside. He finished seventh in the CIF-SS/SCGA finals at Mission Lakes Country Club in Desert Hot Springs and fourth at the CIF/SCGA finals at Brookside Golf Club.
“I never played exceptionally well,; I played consistently,” he said.
He helped the Brahmas, who lost four seniors from the 2013 team, to a second-place finish in the CIF-SS Western Division tournament, seven strokes behind winner Mater Dei. Theegala was one of four players to break par at Sierra La Verne Country Club.
That put Diamond Bar in the CIF-SS finals and the Brahmas finished tied for sixth a Mission Lakes, one stroke away from a team qualifying spot for Brookside.
Theegala’s hot hand continued earlier this month when he won the four-day 97th annual L.A. City Championship by eight strokes. He was 18-under-par at the Harding and Wilson golf courses, playing in his first major non-amateur tournament.
“After the first day, everything nearly clicked,” he said. “I nearly made every putt.”
DEAN SAKATA, Diamond Bar, Senior
In his final year for the Brahmas, Sakata advanced to the CIF/SCGA Southern California finals for the first time at Brookside. His high school season ended in Pasadena, tying for 21st with a 2-over-par 74. He earned the berth by finishing second in the CIF-SS Central Division regional, shooting a 68 at Canyon Crest Country Club in Riverside, one shot behind Santiago’s Aaron Wise. Playing with his team at the CIF-SS finals, he finished tied for 20th with a 2-over-par 74 at Mission Lakes. The Brahmas missed advancing to the CIF/SCGA tournament by one stroke. He will play at Army.