21-year-old Indian American phenom Akshay Bhatia, who turned pro at 17 after being ranked the No. 1 Junior player in the USA, shot 68-65-63-70 (18-under 266) to finish tied-4th at the US$ 7.7mn Mexico Open at Vidanta Vallarta Club in Mexico. Bhatia was obviously in contention for his first PGA Tour title after a superb 3rd round but came up a little short in the final round.
In March, Bhatia was awarded a ‘Special Temporary Membership’ status on the PGA Tour based on other top 10 finishes which enabled him to get into more events. He is now virtually assured of finishing in the top 125 of the Money List at the end of 2023 and being a full time member of the PGA Tour in 2024. He will thus be the 2nd Indian American, along with Sahith Theegala playing the PGA Tour full time.
Last year, Bhatia won once on the Korn Ferry Tour which is the 2nd rung to the PGA Tour but was forced to miss part of the year because of an injury. He had made the cut at the US Open at Torrey Pines in 2022.
Also in the field in Mexico was 50-year-old Arjun Atwal, who the week earlier had recorded a top 10 finish in his debut event on the Champions Tour for players over 50. He shot 70-74 (2-over 144) to miss the cut by four strokes.
Photo – Golf Digest