GRANITEVILLE, S.C. – Akshay Bhatia confirmed quite a lot of maturity in Friday’s second spherical of the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley.
Teeing off within the remaining group as one in all two first-round co-leaders, Bhatia had heard in regards to the hassle his opponents had been having on the par-Three second gap. So when Bhatia splashed his tee ball within the water and walked away with a double bogey on the outlet, he knew he wasn’t alone.
Seems, he was proper; the outlet performed practically a stroke and a half over par at 4.3.
“Going into that gap was a bit of nerve-wracking,” Bhatia stated. “I took my drugs. Everybody goes to have a bogey or double out right here. It’s about minimizing errors and making the most of the holes you’ll be able to.”
Simply as he had finished a day earlier when he obtained a two-stroke penalty for utilizing his rangefinder on the fourth gap, Bhatia rebounded fantastically. He birdied the following three holes after which capped his entrance 9 with consecutive birdies.
After capturing 1 over on the again, the Wake Forest, N.C., native signed for a 2-under 70 to maneuver to six underneath and construct a four-shot lead getting into Saturday’s remaining spherical.
“Even in case you begin dangerous in a golf match, there’s so many holes to play,” Bhatia stated. “I’m 2 over by two holes and I’ve 16 holes left to make birdies and pars, and even eagles.”
Bhatia, who has made simply 4 rating of worse than par by 36 holes, is one in all simply three gamers underneath par for the match, which is taken into account one of many hardest to win in junior golf. Ricky Castillo of Yorba Linda, Calif., additionally shot 70 in Spherical 2 and is second at 2 underneath, and Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg, the opposite first-round chief, is 1 underneath after a second-round 75.
The 16-year-old Bhatia is aware of something can occur in Saturday’s remaining spherical. “This course is a bear,” he stated. However he’s additionally assured in his means to shut out leads.
He’s finished it many instances earlier than, together with ultimately summer season’s Junior PGA Championship. At that occasion, Bhatia shot 61 within the second spherical and led by six photographs after 54 holes earlier than closing in 67, ending at a file 22 underneath and profitable by three.
“I’ll have a very good mindset going into tomorrow,” Bhatia stated. “Have a purpose. That’s what I did at Junior PGA. Everybody’s going to be chasing me, however I really feel like I’m enjoying rather well. So long as I’ve the psychological mindset about profitable then I feel I obtained it.”
Bhatia additionally has been mentally strengthened to dealt with pressure-packed conditions by his experiences on the Junior Presidents Cup and in PGA Tour Monday qualifiers. Since competing in final Might’s qualifier for the Wells Fargo Championship, Bhatia has competed in seven Monday or pre-qualifiers for Tour occasions, together with the Farmers Insurance coverage Open, Phoenix Open and Valspar Championship. The left-hander plans to play one other qualifier for the Wells Fargo subsequent month.
It’s a novel enjoying schedule for an adolescent, however one which has toughened Bhatia, who remains to be deciding whether or not or to not play faculty golf.
“It’s positively a grind,” Bhatia stated of the qualifiers. “You need to go on the market and play an ideal spherical of golf. One mistake and also you’re packing your luggage and going house.”
Bhatia will attempt to deal with Saturday’s remaining spherical at Sage Valley equally. If he succeeds, he’ll have the respect of slipping on the coveted gold jacket.
Sage Valley’s second gap wreaks havoc on Junior Invitational area
Brooks Koepka set to return quickly after wrist harm