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Interview

Read a transcript of the post-Round 1 interview with Rose Zhang and Sahith Theegala.

Rose Zhang & Sahith Theegala

Friday, December 8, 2023

Q. One round including 11 birdies in a row, what did you guys like about today?

SAHITH THEEGALA: Yeah, it was great. It was kind of the start that I guess makes it a little bit less stressful the next couple days because you know a lot of teams are going to go low. Yeah, it was just a lot of fun, kind of feeding off each other, a little ham and egg, which was great. Yeah, it was super fun. I didn’t even realize we made that many birdies in a row, just kind of strung it together. That’s usually when the best golf ends up happening.

Q. You two kind of have the advantage of maybe knowing each other a little bit before this week? How did you two meet and really how did this partnership kind of come together?

ROSE ZHANG: Well, I grew up kind of playing the PGA TOUR Junior Tour and I saw him hoisting up SCPGA trophies as well. He probably doesn’t know me from when way back when I was 11.

We have the same trainer so we’ve been able to kind of work out in the gym and know each other a little bit better off the golf course. So that’s how kind of our friendship started.

Going into this event it was, you know, it didn’t really — at least for me, I didn’t really expect myself to be here because I had to turn pro first. Really had to level up to his standard and his level. It was so fun just to be able to have this partnership happen and we had a really good time together.

Q. Sahith, how cool was it to play alongside Rose and obviously had really good seasons on your respective tours this year?

SAHITH THEEGALA: Yeah, Rose is just so humble. Obviously she did incredible things on the course junior, amateur, even pro now, and she’s an even better person off the course. I just knew we’d have a really, really good time. And like she said, we’ve had the same trainer for like over six years now so that kind of friendship’s been really nice. Yeah, I’m just glad she agreed to play with me.

Q. One more from me real quick. The team name, I know there were a couple team names written down. Did you pick one or are you —

SAHITH THEEGALA: TheRoseGala.

Q. So since you have the trainer in common, can you tell us how he has most impacted your career?

SAHITH THEEGALA: I didn’t realize how important fitness was for me. I never really worked out until I got to college. That’s kind of right around when I started working with him. My trainer at Pepperdine was awesome, but when I wasn’t with him I was with Josh. Our friend, my friendship with Josh really grew when I graduated. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.

And a big thing was injury prevention. He’s really shed a lot of light on that because his background was outpatient therapy and just knows a lot about the body and everything. Knock on wood, I’ve played injury free for four and a half, five years now. That’s been the biggest takeaway for me.

ROSE ZHANG: 100 percent, me too. I feel like from an early age I felt or my parents instilled in me that fitness was very important especially in the game of golf. So when I was 12, 13 I already started working with Josh. He was — he’s been with me in my junior golf days, my going to amateur and then college, throughout that entire couple seasons. He’s always been there for me. He’s even caddied for me twice at Augusta National, which was an extremely special moment for us. That relationship just kept budding. It’s been fun to I guess have him beat us in the gym.

Q. Rose kind of has this reputation of being really good with the swing, especially the setup. I’m curious, have you watched her game closely and vice versa, anything that you’re trying to pick up from each other?

SAHITH THEEGALA: Yeah, yeah. Honestly, it’s been great for me even before this tournament just knowing how good just her process and sticking to the same process over and over. I’ve definitely tried to take some of that and just try and get some of that rhythm through osmosis into my golf swing.

I think a part of her game that doesn’t get talked about much is her putting. Even before this week watching her on TV, she hits her line every single time. That gave me a lot of confidence too knowing that I’m going to be getting perfect reads all week.

There’s something about always seeing a good shot in front of you, I don’t know if it clears up the psyche mentally, it feels good. Definitely taken a lot even before this week, but it’s just so nice to see that, a nice picture ahead of me.

ROSE ZHANG: I mean, it’s nice to see your ball actually go in the hole. It was so incredible just watching from on TV his athleticism and his ability to just get out of trouble. Even just he makes birdie from practically anywhere, from the bushes, from the trees. It’s really cool because I feel like you really have to have a touch for that.

And just his overall demeanor on the golf course, he’s very competitive even though he’s really chill here. I feel like I really love the drive that he has when he’s out there. So I’ve definitely taken that and put it as inspiration as well.

Q. Rose, I was talking to Sahith earlier this week and he observed that you kind of drop your club like even when you miss it by like two yards. Do you care to comment on that observation?

ROSE ZHANG: I do have that tendency and it completely pisses off a lot of my friends because they’re like, you missed it two yards and it’s next to the hole, why are you dropping your club like that, don’t be too extra.

For me it’s just, it’s a reaction. I don’t really think it’s necessarily I’m hitting a bad shot all the time. Sometime it is really bad, but yeah, I don’t know, it’s just something that happens.

Q. And then on a broader scale, playing with a PGA TOUR player, playing with an LPGA player, how did it feel for you guys out there and knowing you have this first round under your belt? Would you do an event like this again in the future?

ROSE ZHANG: It was incredible. I have so much respect for how the PGA players play. Just being able to see them in person and alongside them, be in the same group and play kind of the same golf course at the same time is just a great honor for me. So much inspiration has at least, there’s been so much for me to learn and slowly grow, develop.

SAHITH THEEGALA: Oh, it’s so fun. I hope there’s more events like this. I think — now that I think about it, this should have happened sooner.

But the first thing I said when I walked up to Geno on the first tee, I was like this is so cool, we’re essentially playing with two of the best — I mean, Lilia is No. 1 and had an unbelievable season and just to play with the No. 1 player in the world, that’s something that I don’t think I’ve ever — I’ve never played with — I’ve never played with a No. 1 player in the world, now I’ve played with two, the current No. 1 and the former No. 1 amateur golfer for so long and probably a future No. 1. It’s really cool, me and Joel were joking Lilia and Rose will be better than maybe we ever will be.

ROSE ZHANG: I doubt that.

SAHITH THEEGALA: It’s a lot of fun and it’s just cool to see how they dissect the golf course. They’re just machines, it’s a different game almost. Like I think some of these fairways are very narrow and they’re still getting it 270, 275 right down the middle and we’re not that much longer than that. Even the approach shots are just so much tighter, the dispersion’s tighter. It’s cool to see. Yeah, it’s a lot of fun, too. It’s just fun.

Q. Just being out on the course I feel like there’s a ton of energy out there, just want to get your thoughts on the fans and just kind of the atmosphere out there this week.

SAHITH THEEGALA: Yeah, right off the bat I was surprised how many people were following us from hole 1 and 2. There’s hundreds of people. And on the back nine with a bunch of these grandstands there’s some serious roars out there, which was a lot of fun. I know we have a good amount of support that came out here, so that’s a lot of fun just having them cheer us on, too. The environment’s really fun, it’s really cool. I’m glad to see how many people came out.

ROSE ZHANG: I agree. Energy was buzzing. It’s great to have both tours come together. For a lot of people it’s something so new that they come out and they want to see what kind of formats are going to be played out here. It’s also really cool that the next couple days will be different formats not to make it as boring and more exciting for all the fellow spectators to watch. It’s been really incredible to see everyone supporting this type of event.

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