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‘What a Crazy, Crazy Day’: Indian American Akshay Bhatia Wins Valero Texas Open and Earns Place in The Masters 

‘What a Crazy, Crazy Day’: Indian American Akshay Bhatia Wins Valero Texas Open and Earns Place in The Masters 

  • The 22-year-old Indian American battled a dislocated shoulder and a losing a six-hole lead to seal his second career PGA Tour win.

A dislocated shoulder and losing a six-hole lead did not deter Akshay Bhatia from winning the Valero Texas Open yesterday (April 7), earning him a place at The Masters for the first time. The 22-year-old Indian American “nearly ran away with the tournament holding a six-shot lead entering the 10th hole before world No. 30 Denny McCarthy birdied eight of the final nine holes,” The Athletic reported. Bhatia then birdied the first playoff hole while McCarthy double-bogeyed, sealing his second career PGA Tour win.

Earlier, Bhatia injured his shoulder celebrating the birdie which earned him a place in a play-off with McCarthy. But he “finished off one of the most impressive and improbable wire-to-wire victories, fending off a heroic charge by runner-up McCarthy,” according to USA Today. 

“Man, what a crazy, crazy day,” he said after his win. “This is awesome. “It’s hard to win out there as it showed today. My mom’s birthday was April 1 and her wish was to go to the Masters.” Making it to The Masters is “a dream come true,” he said. “I played Augusta in 2020 maybe, I had a member take me out. I remember how amazing that place is. But to realize that I’m playing in the Masters next week, it’s absolutely crazy.”

With his fiancée Presleigh Schultz by his side, he confirmed the freak shoulder injury.  My shoulder came out of the socket when I went like this,” he said, adding that the same left shoulder had bothered him previously with injuries. The two met online in 2021 April before the Valero Texas Open when he messaged her on Instagram and the pair hit it off. She however didn’t have an idea about the sport he played. In January 2022, she caddied for him when he won the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic in his first Korn Ferry Tour start as a member.

He won his maiden PGA Tour title at the Barracuda Championship in California in August 2023 by defeating Patrick Rodgers. The win, which earned him full Tour status and a spot in the FedEx Cup playoffs, came nearly four years after the 21-year-old turned professional. The Barracuda was Bhatia’s 18th start of the season and 35th career as a professional on the PGA Tour.

He was 15 when he won the 2017 Junior PGA Championship, breaking a course record at the Country Club of St. Albans, and cruising to a three-stroke victory. He added several major junior events a year later, including the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley and the Rolex Tournament of Champions. He later became the third-youngest player to win a Korn Ferry Tour event, when he took home the title at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, with only Sungjae Im and Jason Day doing so at a younger age.

He had a distinguished junior career and was the first high-schooler to play on the U.S. Walker Cup team. Although colleges were lining up for his services, he decided to bypass a colligate career and turn pro at age 17 in 2019.

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