PALM BEACH GARDENS – Akshay Bhatia is fearless, whether or not it’s pursuing a profession as an expert golfer, assembly the lady of his goals or taking off his shirt, footwear and socks and rolling up his pants legs to hit pictures out of the mud and water on the Honda Classic.
Bhatia turned an in a single day star on social media and Golf Channel after hitting not one however two balls out of the water throughout Saturday’s third spherical on the Champion course at PGA Nationwide. Each occasions he eliminated the aforementioned gadgets.
After driving into the water on the sixth gap, he superior his ball 100 yards down the green and bought up and down for a par. His @akshaybhatia_1 Instagram publish of his naked, mud-covered chest after he hit the shot had greater than 17,600 likes and 225 feedback as of Sunday afternoon.
His girlfriend, Presleigh Schultz, who was in his gallery, was ready to get him one other pair of pants to change what he referred to as his “actually, actually gross” trousers.
On the par-3 fifteenth, his tee shot ended up within the watery muck across the inexperienced, which he virtually sank into. His first swing superior the ball solely a foot or so and he hit the following shot from the slop onto the inexperienced, the place he two-putted for a double bogey.
Earlier than these adventures, Bhatia had been in good condition, having opened the match with rounds of 71 and 65 for a 4-under-par complete. His troubles Saturday resulted in a 74 that tied him for 58th place.
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He was doing advantageous Sunday, stringing collectively three birdies in a row on the again 9 to get to 2 beneath for the spherical. However then his tee shot on the fifteenth ended up in almost the identical place as Saturday. So he disrobed once more, splashed the ball onto the inexperienced and two-putted for a bogey. He completed with a 69, putting him within the backside half of the 80-man subject.
“I by no means follow that shot, however after doing it thrice, I suppose I’m getting fairly good at it,” he mentioned.
His newfound fame was obvious on the raucous par-3 seventeenth gap.
“At 17, all you heard was ‘Take it off!’ ” Schultz mentioned. “However it’s been enjoyable.”
Bhatia is simply 21, however he’s proven a knack for making headlines. In 2019, he turned the youngest member of america Walker Cup group at age 17. He additionally performed within the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship on a sponsor exemption that yr, however missed the lower. Later that spring, he Monday-qualified for a Korn Ferry Tour occasion and tied for forty second.
Born in Los Angeles, Bhatia’s household moved to Wake Forest, N.C., whereas he was a boy. Now residing in Raleigh, N.C., he thought-about enjoying school golf however determined that college wasn’t for him and he turned professional.
He performed 11 PGA Tour occasions in 2020-21, his finest end a tie for ninth. He gained his first Korn Ferry match in 2022, however didn’t earn a PGA Tour card. This season, he’s made three cuts in three PGA Tour tournaments. He’ll play within the Tour’s Puerto Rico Open this week.
Bhatia’s most important match was the 2021 Valero Texas Open in San Antonio. It was there that he despatched an Instagram direct message to Schultz. She met him on the match and finally turned his girlfriend and part-time caddie.
“I didn’t know what I used to be getting myself into,” Schultz mentioned, who demonstrated Saturday simply how good a girlfriend she is.
“Fortunately we’re staying proper right here on property. I used to be on 6 inexperienced, which is nearly the farthest level from the lodge,” she mentioned. “So I’m swerving by the group, making an attempt to get to the lodge room, bought a pair of pants, a guidelines official gave me a trip again and I bought them to him by 8 inexperienced. I feel he modified in a Porta-Potty.
“Then sadly it occurred once more on 15 and I didn’t have an additional pair.”
This text initially appeared on Palm Seaside Publish: Akshay Bhatia becomes fan favorite at Honda Classic after Saturday strip