Akshay Bhatia wins Junior PGA with one final record in his possession

Montana Pritchard/PGA of America

Akshay Bhatia wins Junior PGA with one final record in his possession

Junior

Akshay Bhatia wins Junior PGA with one final record in his possession

ST. ALBANS, Mo. — Akshay Bhatia closed a record-setting week by adding his name to the record books one last time, shooting a 5-under 67 on Thursday to win the 42nd Boys Junior PGA Championship over the Lewis and Clark Course at the Country Club of St. Albans.

Bhatia, a 15-year-old, home-schooled lefty from Wake Forest, N.C., finished three strokes clear of Reid Davenport, of Austin, Texas, and in the process smashed the 72-hole scoring record that had stood for 24 years. His four-round total was 22-under 266, five shots better than the winning total posted by Pat Perez in 1993 at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort.

Earlier in the week, Bhatia broke the Junior PGA’s 18-hole scoring record with a second-round 61, tied the 36-hole mark, then set the record for 54 holes.

“It’s such a great feeling,” Bhatia said. “It’s just awesome.

“I wasn’t focused on any other player. I was trying to get to a number I had in mind, 22 under, and I knew I had a two-stroke lead going to 18, and then to birdie 18 is a plus. My coach and I had a game plan to stay focused, go play golf.”

Bhatia started the final day leading by two, but Davenport, a high school senior headed to Vanderbilt a year from now, opened with birdies on five of his first six holes en route to a final-round 66.

“If you told me at the beginning of the week that I’d shoot 19 under and not win,” Davenport said, “I’d call you crazy. My putting was amazing and I hit the ball well — when I needed to.”

Davenport, who trailed by four after 54 holes, pulled even with Bhatia at 20 under after the par-5 14th, but he hit his tee shot into a bunker left of the green at the par-3 15th and then missed a 12-foot putt for par.

“That’s when I started to think it might go his way,” conceded Davenport.

Trent Phillips, of Inman, S.C., shot 4-under 68 on Thursday to finish third, with Daulet Tuleubayev of Cupertino, Calif., in fourth at 15-under 273 after closing with an even-par 72.

For the week, Bhatia played the par 5s in 16 under, collecting an eagle and two birdies there on Thursday.

At the par-5 second on Thursday, he hit a 4-iron 9 feet behind the hole and made the eagle putt. At No. 14, the final par 5, he went ahead for good after a 265-yard hybrid rolled right past the cup, stopping on the back fringe, 12 feet away. From there he putted to 12 inches and tapped in for birdie.

“That hybrid saved me all week,” said Bhatia. “It was my go-to club.”

Even before his victory at the Junior PGA, it had been a great summer for Bhatia. He and Grayson Wotnosky advanced into match play at the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, and Bhatia advanced out of U.S. Open local qualifying.

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