Sahith Theegala

Sahith Theegala

When the Pepperdine Waves men’s and women’s golf squads tee off their seasons this month, they will find themselves ranked amongst the top teams in college golf. 

The men’s team is ranked second in Golfweek’s preseason ranking and third in the Golf Channel’s top 25 list. The Waves are positioned 10th in the Bushnell Golfweek coaches poll. 

The Waves women’s team is slotted 25th in Golfweek’s top 30 ranking. Rival USC sits atop the list. 

Golfweek had Texas as the lone team ranked ahead of Pepperdine’s men’s team, while the Golf Channel had Texas and Arizona State in its Nos. one and two spots.

An anonymous coach told the Golf Channel the Pepperdine men’s team could be the best team in the country. 

“They’re ridiculous,” the coach said. “They’re loaded.”

The squad has two golfers tapped as preseason All-Americans. Senior Sahith Theegala, who took last season off recovering from a wrist injury, was named to Golfweek’s preseason All-American first team, and freshman William Mouw was named to the third team. 

Theegala is a two-time All-American, three-time All-West Region and All-West Coast Conference honoree. His 70.95 scoring average is the best in Pepperdine history, and he is second on the Waves’ all-time below-par rounds list with 57. Theegala has 28 top-20 finishes and 13 top-10 finishes in his career.

Mouw enters the season with two victories last spring. The first-year Wave won the PING Heather Farr Classic in April and the Thunderbird International Junior the next month. 

Pepperdine’s roster also includes key returners: junior Austin Murphy, sophomores Derek Hitchner and Joe Highsmith, and seniors Clay Feagler and Joshua McCarthy. 

Highsmith, Feagler and Joshua McCarthy were named to the All-WCC first team last April. Feagler and McCarthy were also named to the All-West Region team. Feagler, was a first-team member for the third straight season and led Pepperdine with a 70.82 scoring average. McCarthy is a three-time conference first-teamer and had a 71.27 scoring average that was second on the Waves. Highsmith was the conference’s freshman of the year. 

Michael Beard, the team’s head coach for eight seasons, is the West Coast Conference Coach of the Year four seasons running. 

Beard told the Golf Channel his roster is full of super competitive golfers. 

“The main puzzle [for us as coaches] is finding out who’s going to be playing each week,” he said. “Sahith and those guys look at it like they’ve been on this team long enough, let’s do something. Being able to keep that edge every week is going to be our main focus.” 

Laurie Gibbs, the head coach of the Pepperdine women’s team for 27 seasons, has won the conference’s coach of the year honor 13 times and is a Women’s Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame member. 

One of the Gibbs’ freshman golfers, Alexa Melton, was named to Golfweek’s preseason All-American second team. Melton won the Thunderbird International Junior Tournament in Arizona in May and finished second at last December’s Toyota Tour Cup Championships in Santa Barbara. 

Melton’s teammates include senior Momoka Kobori, an All-WCC first-team member for two consecutive seasons. She has nine top-10 finishes, 12 top-20 finishes and 13 below-par rounds. 

The women’s golf team won the WCC title last season for the 18th time. The group’s season begins on Sept. 9 at the two-day Dick McGuire Invitational in New Mexico. 

The men’s team’s first event is the Sept. 13-15 Maui Jim Intercollegiate in Scottsdale, Ariz. The squad won the conference championship last season for the 20th time in route to finishing 11th at the NCAA Championships.

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