Akshay Bhatia takes control of Junior PGA with record 61

PGA of America

Akshay Bhatia takes control of Junior PGA with record 61

Junior

Akshay Bhatia takes control of Junior PGA with record 61

ST. ALBANS, Mo. – As a high school sophomore, Akshay Bhatia of Wake Forest, N.C., hasn’t been overburdened with the college recruiting process.

But now, rest assured, he’s on the radar of every college coach in America, thanks to his second round at the 42nd Boys Junior PGA Championship on Tuesday on the Lewis and Clark Course at the Country Club of St. Albans.

Bhatia flirted with 59 but settled for a championship-record 61, breaking the previous mark of 62 shared by six players, among them Chris Couch, Pat Perez and Jordan Spieth. Bhatia became the fourth player to tie the Junior PGA record of 130 for the opening 36 holes.

“I was just seeing the (putting) lines really well,” said Bhatia, who also lowered his personal best of 63. “I played well yesterday, I just didn’t get many putts to drop. Today, everything went in.”

Bhatia’s 61 gave him a three-stroke lead at the midway point. Jacob Bridgeman of Inman, S.C., is in second at 11-under-par 133 after a second-round 68, and Reid Davenport of Austin, Texas (69), and Daulet Tuleubayev of Cupertino, Calif. (68) share third place at 9-under 135.

Starting his second round at the 10th hole, Bhatia shot 28 on his opening nine with a birdie at every hole except the par-3 15th, where he two-putted for par from 25 feet. Of his 12 birdies on the day, only two were longer than 10 feet; he made 20-footers at the 13th and 17th.

Bhatia had a few reasonable chances to go even lower than he did. He missed an 8-foot birdie try at the par-5 sixth, a 6-footer at the last and a 4-foot-putt when he made his only bogey of the day at No. 1.

“Yes I was,” responded Bhatia at the prospect of being nervous over his 6-footer at the last green. “I thought about 59 early, but when I knew I didn’t have a chance at that, I just wanted to make as many (birdies) as I could.”

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