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akshay bhatia masters

From boy to man! Akshay Bhatia makes history by booking Masters spot

10 years ago, Akshay Bhatia competed in the Drive, Chip and Putt finals at the Masters. Now in 2024, he is playing in the real thing thanks to a stunning display in Texas…

 

Akshay Bhatia may have just booked himself a Masters debut, but he is no stranger to Augusta National.

The 22-year-old American has become the first ever participant to have played in the Masters Drive, Chip and Putt finals and go on to qualify for the first major of the year.

Bhatia secured his second PGA Tour title at the Valero Texas Open and in doing so, he has earned a spot down Magnolia Lane and his first-ever appearance at a major championship.

Saturday, April 6 marked the 10th anniversary of Bhatia’s participation in the special event in Masters week dedicated to junior golfers before the start of the tournament.

He came sixth in the 12-13-year-old age bracket and now a decade later, he will tee it up in the real thing at the very last minute.

This year, 80 junior golfers from 31 American states, Canada and Australia earned an invitation to play in the 10th edition of the competition which features age groups from seven to 15 years old.

akshay bhatia masters

ALSO: What clubs does Akshay Bhatia use?

Akshay Bhatia: Texas Open win didn’t come without drama

Bhatia carded a final score of 67 on the Oaks course at TPC San Antonio but despite holding a four-shot lead at the start of the final round, he was forced into a playoff by Denny McCarthy.

McCarthy staggeringly made eight birdies on the back nine to shoot a nine-under-par 63, including one final birdie on the 72nd hole to take a one-shot lead and pile the pressure on his playing partner Bhatia.

Bhatia responded with a birdie of his own on the 18th to salvage a playoff when he had also led by six shots at one stage on Sunday.

The pair went back down the par-5 18th hole. Both players laid up after two shots but McCarthy dunked his ball in the water short of the green to open the door for Bhatia to take the victory.

However, the drama increased when Bhatia sought the help of a physio before he approached the green with his third shot as when he holed his birdie putt to force the playoff in regulation play, he injured his shoulder.

“This shoulder, I’ve had some issues with,” he said. “When I made that putt, I raised my arm and it came out its socket, it came out and went back in. Thankfully, he was still around and taped it up good and it felt good hitting that wedge shot.”

He made the birdie he needed to put to bed what became an exciting and stressful finish. Bhatia earned his PGA Tour membership in 2023 after winning the Barracuda Championship and being promoted from a Special Temporary membership.

“I just stuck to my game plan. I played great today, I got the goal that I had in mind today and Denny played unbelievable. You’ve got to give him credit. It’s hard because he’s one of the best players out here,” he added.

“When you see him get hot, it’s scary because I had a six-shot lead going into the back nine all of a sudden, we’re tied going into 18 and of course, he makes that putt. Man, what a crazy day!

“Just celebrating. This was awesome. It’s hard to win out here as it showed today. My mum’s birthday was on April 1 and her wish was to get into the Masters, so I’m hoping I make her proud.”

NOW READ: At the Drive, Chip and Putt Finals, golf’s future looks great

NOW READ: Incredible! Lottie Woad produces finish for the ages at Augusta

What did you make of this incredible Akshay Bhatia Masters story? Tell us on X!

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spent time with some of the biggest names in the sport.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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