Apr 9, 2024 - News

Wake Forest native punches last ticket to the Masters

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - APRIL 07: Akshay Bhatia of the United States plays his tee shot on the 11th hole during the final round of the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio on April 07, 2024 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Raj Mehta/Getty Images)

Akshay Bhatia plays his tee shot on the 11th hole during the final round of the Valero Texas Open. Photo: Raj Mehta/Getty Images

Akshay Bhatia, a 22-year-old Wake Forest native, nabbed the last invitation to the Masters golf tournament by winning last weekend's Texas Open in a playoff.

Why it matters: It will be the first Masters tournament — often considered professional golf's most prestigious championship — for the left-handed, homeschooled golf prodigy who was the world's top-ranked junior player before turning professional at 17.

Between the lines: Bhatia skipped college entirely for a chance to make it on the PGA Tour — a decision that's a rarity in the golf world.

  • But five years into his career, the bet has been working out for Bhatia, who gradually worked through the pyramid of professional golf to get to the Masters this weekend.

Bhatia's game flourished in the past year.

  • He finished second in the Puerto Rico Open last year, which made him a temporary member on the PGA Tour, the Wall Street Journal noted.
  • Bhatia followed that up with a win at the 2023 Barracuda Championship, making him a full member.
  • In the past year, he went from 279th to 34th in the world rankings.

Yes, but: While celebrating a putt that sent him to a playoff in the Texas Open, Bhatia dislocated his shoulder.

What they're saying: "It's nothing new to me," Bhatia told PGATour.com, noting he's playing through it before.

  • "It's a weird, weird experience because I had so much adrenaline so I had no pain in that playoff," he added. "But it's definitely something we're going to have to work towards, and I have a lot of trust in my team that we can tee it up on Thursday."

What's next: The 88th Masters Tournament begins April 11 at Augusta National Golf Club. Watch it on CBS.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Raleigh.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Raleigh stories

No stories could be found

Raleighpostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Raleigh.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more