13 February 2019: At 17, Akshay Bhatia is perhaps the most written about junior golfer in the world. The young golfing phenom has been raking in victories at a furious pace, making people stop and take notice of his enormous talent. After ending 2018 on a high, winning the Rolex Tournament of Champions, Akshay stepped it up a notch when he the Jones Cup Invitational an all ages amateur event to kick start his 2019 season.
Bhatia turned 17 at the end of January and promptly announced his intentions to skip college for a career in golf. The Wake Forest, North Carolina native will turn pro in January 2020. The Jones Cup victory earned Bhatia an entry into the RSM Classic, later this year on the PGA TOUR.
— PGA of America (@PGA) August 4, 2018
With the big TOUR debut in his bag, Bhatia is looking to play some Monday qualifiers to try and gain an entry to a PGA TOUR event well before that November schedule of the RSM Classic.
Your 2019 Jones Cup Champion, Akshay Bhatia ??? pic.twitter.com/WCbdY1RurI
— JonesCupInvitational (@Jones_Cup) February 3, 2019
While Bhatia has long established himself as the top junior in the world, he has begun to make big strides in amateur golf with some notable performances over the past year and a little.
The Jones Cup win underlined his credentials as a top prospect. The final round at the Ocean Forest Golf Club was rained out with Bhatia and Davis Thompson, tied for the 36-hole lead at 2 under. A playoff was planned for 0100pm and Thompson handed the advantage to Bhatia right off the tee. The Georgia sophomore drove his ball into the water on the left while Bhatia placed his in the rough on the right.
Thompson did well to reach the green with his third shot, but when he failed to make par from 35 feet, Bhatia had two putts for par.
Coming on the heels of successes in the Polo Golf Junior Classic, Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, Junior PGA this victory has Bhatia setting sights on a place in the US Walker Cup team. If he does make it that far, he would become the first ever school kid to play on that US team. Bhatia has already represented US in the Junior Ryder Cup and enjoyed a practice session in last December’s Walker Cup.
But for sheer impressiveness, look no further than the Jones Cup for now. Bhatis trumped several established amateurs – Ohio State’s Will Grimmer and England’s Alex Fitzpatrick tied for third at 1 under. Duke’s Chandler Eaton and N.C. State’s Stephen Franken were even par in T-5. The defending champion, Garrett Barber, a freshman at LSU finished T9.