Akshay Bhatia, who at 17 is playing in his first event as a professional, shot a 2-under 70 to open his week at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
He bogeyed his second hole but rebounded with his first birdie on the par-5 third hole.
Because bad weather suspended the first round on Thursday, he didn’t sign for his first round as a pro until Friday.
Bhatia then went right back out on the course for his second round and things didn’t go as smoothly. He had four bogeys and two birdies and posted a 2-over 74, which puts him at even par for the tournament but three shots off the cutline.
Bhatia, in the field this week on a sponsor exemption, is scheduled to play next week in Napa, California, in the Safeway Open in what is shaping up to be a much stronger field than the one in Jackson, Mississippi, this week.
On Wednesday, Bhatia talked about his friend, Joaquin Niemann, who at the age of 20, won the PGA Tour’s season opener the previous weekend at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier.
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“It was really cool because Joaquin didn’t go to college, and obviously had a great amateur and junior career,” Bhatia said Wednesday. “To see him finally break through and win, it was probably the coolest thing. I saw him in the locker room this week, gave him a hug. It was just probably the coolest thing. Like I said, it’s inspiring to see that. I’m ready to get it going and see what I can do.”
Bhatia’s previous pro-event experience was at the Valspar Championship in March, where he missed the cut, and a Korn Ferry Tour event in April, where he tied for 42nd.