Golf News

Akshay Bhatia contending just 90 miles from home

Akshay Bhatia contending just 90 miles from home

PINEHURST, N.C. — Akshay Bhatia lives in Wake Forest, roughly 90 miles from Pinehurst No. 2, where Bhatia is in contention midway through the 2024 U.S. Open.

The 22-year-old golfer called it Thursday, saying Donald Ross’ masterpiece was “only going to get harder and harder” over the final three days.

Following an opening-round 68 that put him inside the top 10, Bhatia saw his prediction come to fruition Friday. Still, he remains in contention because of his ability to minimize mistakes and string together grind-it-out pars.

“I love this golf. You’re hitting it in the middle of greens, and making pars is fun,” said Bhatia, who is in red figures at 1 under.

“I think it takes a lot more discipline, and it takes just a lot more intention on where you’re trying to hit it and where you’re trying to miss it. It’s a lot different than just birdie fests.”

U.S. OPENLeaderboard | Hole-by-hole | How to watch

Bhatia said he “wasn’t feeling too great” about his swing in the second round, but he managed to “stay patient, make a lot of pars, and thankfully didn’t go birdie free.”

After bogeys on two of his first four holes, Bhatia got back to neutral with a birdie at the par-5 fifth and eight pars on his final nine holes to card a 1-over-par 71.

“Short game is really good right now, and that’s what you need to stay in U.S. Opens and major championships,” he said.

The stats back up Bhatia’s feelings about his short game. In the second round, Bhatia was +2.51 in strokes gained with his short game, near the top of the 156-player field.

“I felt like I was really feeling and seeing every chip,” he said. “It was nice I made a really good putt on 3 to keep the momentum going. Otherwise, it could have been a different story.”

Bhatia recorded a sand save on the par-4 third, draining an 18-footer for par. He wrapped up his round with a lag putt from 64 feet to around 5 feet, rolling in the par putt to stay under par for the tournament.

His fourth major championship appearance is on pace to be his best. Earlier this year, Bhatia tied for 35th in his Masters debut and missed the cut at the PGA Championship. His only other major was the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, where he tied for 57th.

In April, Bhatia won in Texas for his second PGA Tour title. Just over two months later, he’s contending for a major in his home state.


Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at Golfweek…