Before the start of the 2023 Fortinet Championship, Akshay Bhatia switched to a broomstick putter, one similar that Lucas Glover used to win consecutive Tour events only a month before.
Bhatia, a 20-year-old who broke through for his first Tour victory at the Barracuda Championship last summer, had a strong rookie season outside of his putter. He knew something needed to change to be more consistent. He switched his flat stick for one round at the Fortinet Championship and three rounds at the RSM Classic. It has been in the bag again this week, and through three rounds of the 2024 season, it seems that switch is paying off.
After three rounds of the 2024 The Sentry at Kapalua in Maui, Hawaii, Bhatia is sitting at 20-under 199, one shot behind leader Chris Kirk. However, the youngster is first in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting.
“I played nice today,” Bhatia said. “Didn’t make any mistakes. Made some putts. I wish I would have not 3-putted 18, and that’s what I’m going to think about, but it was a good day. We all played really well in the group. I’m looking forward to the opportunity tomorrow.”
What do winners over the last three years have in common at Kapalua? Leading the field in Strokes Gained: Putting.
The Sentry: Photos
As he mentioned, the lone blemish for Bhatia in his third-round 7-under 66 came on the closing par-5 18th, when he three putted for the first time this week. It resulted in a par, but nevertheless, Bhatia will be in the final pairing come Sunday’s final round.
“My caddie has been here plenty of times, and I’m relying on him,” he said. “Our game plan, we have a nice game plan of what holes we need to play conservatively, what holes we can attack, and then what holes we can just kind of plod around. If you make a couple birdies on the harder holes it’s a big jump, I think. Then, like you said, you got to make a lot of birdies. A lot of holes are birdieable, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t.
“You just keep plotting around and hopefully you play this golf course more and more you get more comfortable on certain things. So, that’s kind of what I’m going about.”
Hereare four more things you need to know from the third round of The Sentry.
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