Essential Golf: A passion for the Game

Akshay Bhatia Rallies to Secure First PGA TOUR title at Barracuda Championship

Akshay Bhatia Rallies to Secure First PGA TOUR title at Barracuda Championship
(©Jefferee Woo/Tampa Bay Times via ZUMA Press Wire/Alamy)

Akshay Bhatia earned full PGA TOUR status after he fought off Patrick Rodgers in a play-off to seal a maiden PGA TOUR victory at the Barracuda Championship in California.

The 21-year-old American, who turned professional at the age of 17, sunk a 15-foot birdie on the par-four 18th to finish on 40 points in the event which used the Stableford scoring system. The system awards five pints for an eagle and two points for a birdie but deducts a point for a bogey and three for a double bogey.

Bhatia matched Rodgers’ score to force the play-off but Rodgers’ tee shot landed in a divot and could only settle for a bogey. Bhatia capitalized and sunk in nearby to secure victory.

“I knew that if I got into a position like this, I could do it. I’ve done it at every level. Man, that felt uncomfortable out there,” Bhatia said. “That putt on 18 in regulation was just, man, it’s a crazy feeling. I was telling my caddie, like, your brain and everything, you can feel all this adrenaline, all this shakiness. It’s pretty crazy.”

Victory means that Bhatia will now be able to participate in the FedExCup play-offs. He had previously been under special temporary membership thanks to his runner-up finish in March’s Puerto Rico Open.

Rodgers has yet to win in 246 PGA TOUR starts and was unable to convert a 54-hole lead for the fifth time.

“I felt like I had control of the tournament. I had a putt to win, which was nice. So, bummer result,” Rodgers said. “Kind of a crummy break there in the playoff. In the middle of the fairway to drive it in a divot. But that’s just the way it goes. I’ll come back stronger.”

The next event on the PGA TOUR is the 3M Open taking place between 27-30 July at TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota.