July 25, 2018: Akshay Bhatia made a grand entrance on the junior golf scene last year, when he rewrote a large piece of the Boys Junior PGA Championship record book, highlighted by a blazing 61 during the second round. His winning total of 22-under par 266 broke Pat Perez’s 24-year old record by five strokes.
Next week, Bhatia is looking to become the first male ever to win back-to-back Championships in an event that dates to 1976. He leads a field of 144 top boys juniors—including 74 players committed to play collegiate golf—who will compete at Valhalla Golf Club for the 43rd Boys Junior PGA Championship, July 31-Aug. 3.
One of golf’s major championships for juniors, the Boys Junior PGA Championship is where the best in the world get their start including: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, 2017 PGA Champion and Louisville native Justin Thomas, 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Trevor Immelman, Justin Leonard, David Toms and Scott Verplank.
“It’s surreal to play really good golf and be in the record books at such a prestigious event,” said Bhatia, now 16, of Wake Forest, North Carolina. “It meant so much, because it kicked off my junior career.”
At the end of the event, five boys will join: 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur Champion Michael Thorbjornsen; 2018 Girls Junior PGA Champion Yeliani Noh; 2017 Girls PGA Champion Rose Zhang; 2016 Girls Junior PGA Champion Lucy Li; Rachel Heck; Erica Shepherd; and Alexa Pano on the 12-player, co-ed 2018 United States Junior Ryder Cup Team in Paris in September.
Designed by Jack Nicklaus, Valhalla is ranked as one of the Top 100 courses in America. It has hosted some iconic events in PGA of America history, led by the famous Tiger Woods-Bob May duel in 2000—which many consider to be the greatest PGA Championship ever—and the United States’ upset win over Europe in the 2008 Ryder Cup.
“We’re delighted to host the 2018 Boys Junior PGA Championship, and welcome some of the best junior golfers in the world to Valhalla Golf Club and the city of Louisville for an exciting week of golf,” said Valhalla Golf Club General Manager Keith Reese, PGA.
PGA Tour Release