17-year-old Akshay Bhatia making professional debut at Sanderson Farms Championship this week

September 16, 2019
Valspar Championship - Round One

Matt Sullivan

Give Akshay Bhatia this: he is not one for patience.

Bhatia, 17, long announced his intentions to forgo college and turn professional after high school. Two months ago, Bhatia circled the Safeway Open as his platform for his professional debut.

However, it turns out the Safeway will now be pro tournament No. 2 for Bhatia, as he announced on Monday he will be playing in this week's Sanderson Farms Championship. He is in the field via a sponsor's exemption.

"That feeling when the time has officially come," Bhatia wrote on Instagram. "A special thanks to everyone on my team that has helped me get here this week, especially my family for supporting me all the way. Let’s do this!"

The Wake Forest, N.C., resident announced in May that he had signed with Lagardere Sports for management and marketing representation, and targeted the fall in multiple interviews as a launch for his pro career.

Bhatia, fifth in the World Amateur rankings, has won five junior and amateur events in the past year, highlighted by a victory at the Jones Cup Invitational. He made his first start in a PGA Tour event earlier this season at the Valspar Championship and was able to Monday qualify, and make the cut, at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Championship.

Two weeks ago, Bhatia was the first golfer still in high school to compete for the United States in Walker Cup history, scoring two points for the Americans in their victory over Great Britain & Ireland at Royal Liverpool.