Masters: Akshay Bhatia unprecedented dream 10 years in making


Akshay Bhatia’s first look at The Masters carries substantial historic significance.

Ten years in the past, in 2014, Bhatia, solely 12 years outdated on the time, participated within the inaugural Drive, Chip, and Putt championship at Augusta Nationwide. He wore dishevelled khakis, a Carolina-Blue polo, and a white hat on that memorable Sunday earlier than Masters week.

“That first time on the Drive, Chip & Putt is fairly surreal as a child. You simply don’t notice how fortunate we’re to have that chance,” Bhatia stated Monday.

“And for everybody to be so gracious to let some youngsters hit some golf balls on the vary, hit some putts on the 18th inexperienced, it was unreal. And I keep in mind making that putt, sporting these dishevelled pants, fortunately my model’s gotten just a little higher [since then].”

Like his model, his play on the golf course has improved, too. Have a look at what he did on the Sunday earlier than The Masters this yr.

Akshay Bhatia, PGA Tour, Valero Texas Open

Akshay Bhatia performs a shot in the course of the remaining spherical of the 2024 Valero Texas Open.
Photograph by Raj Mehta/Getty Photographs

He punched his ticket to Augusta in otherworldly trend, successful the Valero Texas Open in a wild playoff to safe the 89th and remaining place on this yr’s subject.

After holding a six-shot lead halfway via the ultimate spherical, Bhatia fended off a red-hot Denny McCarthy, who shot a 8-under 28 on the again 9 to power additional holes. Bhatia wanted to win at TPC San Antonio to get to Augusta, whereas something however would go away him out of the sector.

“I used to be taking part in rather well all day, and Denny simply discovered this hearth in him. I feel he had seven one-putts on the again 9, it was fairly spectacular. ” Bhatia stated.

“Simply to be standing right here, it’s superb, and simply having the chance, the members giving us the chance to play their golf course is actually particular, and I can’t wait to be on that first tee on Thursday.”

When he steps foot on the first tee Thursday, Bhatia will change into the primary participant who has participated within the Drive, Chip, and Putt Championship to compete in The Masters.

“Being right here and being the primary Drive, Chip & Putt participant within the Masters is basically cool,” Bhatia stated.

“So I’m hoping this may encourage a number of youngsters which might be having the chance to play.”

He actually felt impressed by these competing within the 2014 Masters.

That week, Bhatia remembers bumping into John Daly within the elevator of his lodge. He additionally recollects driving up Magnolia Lane for the primary time and assembly many new buddies.

Akshay Bhatia, PGA Tour, Valero Texas Open

Akshay Bhatia and caddie Ryan Jamison in the course of the remaining spherical of the 2024 Valero Texas Open.
Photograph by Raj Mehta/Getty Photographs

However it was a second within the grandstand to the left of the 4th inexperienced that impressed Bhatia.

“I keep in mind popping out watching the observe rounds on Tuesday,” Bhatia stated.

“We have been sitting on Gap 4 within the grandstands, and it was simply so surreal. I keep in mind how unhealthy I needed to be on the market and never simply watch.”

Now it has come full circle for Bhatia. Those that competed on this yr’s Drive, Chip, and Putt Championship could have the chance to observe him scout Augusta on Tuesday.

He didn’t do a lot preparation on Monday, however relaxation assured that Bhatia will probably be able to go. The adrenaline from Sunday’s victory at TPC San Antonio will nonetheless pump via him all week, giving him the vitality he must compete at this yr’s Masters.

And who is aware of? Perhaps he could make much more historical past by successful the Inexperienced Jacket.

That may be an unbelievable full-circle second.

Jack Milko is a golf workers author for SB Nation’s Taking part in Via. You should definitely try @_PlayingThrough for extra golf protection. You possibly can observe him on Twitter @jack_milko as properly.